The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

August 29, 2013

Fayette County rep wins open records fight with state police

UNIONTOWN — A lawmaker has a right to know how many state troopers are assigned to a busy barracks in his southwestern Pennsylvania district, the state’s Office of Open Records ruled.

State Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fayette, filed the request after police refused to release the information, saying criminals could use it to plan crimes. The police partly complied with Mahoney’s request last month by acknowledging 16 vacancies at the Lemont Furnace barracks, but the agency refused to say how many troopers still work there.

Under the ruling, state police must now disclose how many troopers are assigned to the barracks, near Uniontown.

The open records office ruling said the staffing number should be public, because Mahoney didn’t ask for information about scheduling or how many troopers work each shift.

“While it is true that individuals could monitor PSP barracks and make various estimates as to how many troopers are currently on duty for nefarious purposes ... (that is) not in any way dependent on the release of the current working trooper complement” assigned to the barracks, the office found.

State police spokeswoman Maria Finn declined comment, except to say the decision may be appealed.

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