Pace professor, media expert: Governments have legal and ethical obligation to provide public info
A Pace University professor and media expert is weighing in on the ethical and legal obligation that municipalities have to provide public information.
The topic came up when multiple law enforcement sources told News 12 this month that the City of Newburgh is purposely withholding information about crimes to improve its image.
Government agencies are required to provide public information on request under the state and federal Freedom of Information laws, and experts say there’s also an ethical obligation for transparency.
“In cases like Newburgh, it’s really up to what extent do people in the government feel they should be putting this information out because it’s information in the public interest, and to what extent are they facing pressure from the public to release that information?” said Dr. Kate Fink.
News 12 has learned that City of Newburgh Manager Todd Venning recently required that he approve all requests for public information, but he has not responded to any of our inquires.
The police chief, police commissioner and public information officer have also either denied our requests for public information about crimes or have not responded at all since last month.
The city has seen a surge in violent crime, particularly gun violence, since last year.
Two municipalities in Westchester, Mount Pleasant and Mount Vernon, have recently made headlines for being sued after allegedly failing to provide public information under state law.