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Citing Policy, Alexandria Police Won't Release Incident Reports

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The Alexandria Police Department is declining to release the incident report from a fatal police-involved shooting.

A press release from the police department says officers responded to a domestic call Monday and encountered a suspect with a weapon. But police in Alexandria, Va., are refusing to provide further details about the incident.

"It doesn't matter what type of case, as a policy we don't release incident reports," said Alexandria Police Department spokesperson Ashley Hildebrandt.

In most states, releasing the incident report would be a matter of routine — a document that outlines what happened and why. The reports let the public know how law enforcement agencies act on their behalf.

But not in Virginia, where police operate in secret.

"Any time you have a situation in which there is a police-involved shooting or kind of any activity involving the police, the department ought to do its best to put the public in the best position to know what s been going on and what's happened," says Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Arlington police officials even charge for staff time associated for creating a six-line summary of an incident report they are shielding from public scrutiny.

"Keeping stuff secret in that circumstance doesn't serve anybody well. It doesn't serve the police department well, and it certainly doesn't serve the community well," Gastañaga said.

Last year, the Center for Public Integrity graded each of the 50 states on government accountability, transparency and corruption. Virginia got an F.


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