Arkansas court says trooper photos don’t have to be released


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday reversed a judge’s decision that State Police must release photos of all of its troopers who don’t work undercover, saying doing so would effectively identify troopers who work undercover.

Justices sided with the State Police, which had denied a Freedom of Information Act request by blogger Russ Racop. In 2020, Racop requested photos of all uniformed and plainclothes state troopers who don’t work undercover.

A Pulaski County judge last year ordered the agency to release the photos, saying that they didn’t fall under an exemption in the public records law for undercover officers. But the high court put that order on hold while they considered the case.

Racop noted that State Police regularly post photos of the same troopers on social media and argued that interpreting the exemption to include the photos requested would “swallow the public records rule.”

But justices ruled that releasing the photos could be used to identify troopers who work undercover by comparing it to information from other sources, such as the state’s transparency website that lists the names, salaries, and other identifying information of state employees.