On July 11, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court set forth a comprehensive framework for how law enforcement must respond to OPRA requests for records that may pertain to criminal investigations. The Court found that North Jersey Media Group was entitled to unredacted copies of Use of Force reports under OPRA; was entitled to copies of dash-cam videos of a police pursuit under the common law right of access; and was not entitled to copies of investigative reports, witness statements, and similar “detailed” records at the beginning of the investigation.
The Court kept the door open for any record that pertains to an investigation to be withheld during the investigation, but the Court required more than “generic” reasons to justify withholding documents or information about an open criminal investigation. Thus, the Court reversed the worst parts of the Appellate Division’s decision, but still gives public agencies the power to withhold criminal investigatory records if they are not required by law to be created by law enforcement or the public agency can make a specific showing that disclosure would harm an ongoing investigation or be inimical to the public interest.
Read more at NJFOG