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THE FERGUSON DECISION

THE FERGUSON DECISION

Hancock County

Hancock County

 
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Hancock County Sherriff taking stand on FOI request

Updated: Wednesday, April 16 2014, 06:31 PM EDT

wtov9.com

HANCOCK COUNTY, W.Va. – Is it an invasion of privacy? Or simply public information that everyone has a right to know?
A request via the Freedom of Information Act to the Sheriff’s Office in Hancock County by a local newspaper seeking to unearth the names of concealed weapon permit holders has one local Sheriff taking a stand and many are there to back him up.
Sheriff Ralph Fletcher believes any information with your name and address notifying the public that you are a permit holder is an invasion of privacy.
“To my mind what this ends up doing is putting a road map out to those people who have guns,” Fletcher said. “Not so much that the bad guys going to break in while you’re home, but they now6 know certain home and residences have guns in there.”
The newspaper’s request has been denied by the Sheriff, but officials at the newspaper said they simply just want the opportunity to inspect those documents.
Still, some don’t see any reason for anyone to the lists outside of law enforcement officials.
Ernesto Chavez is a concerned resident of Hancock County who wonders if the newspaper gets ahold of the records, how will that stop crime?
“If they know people have concealed weapons or even have a weapon, they are going to avoid that area or go to someone else’s house,” Chaves said. “Or you never know when you might get stopped in the street.”
The sheriff said he could be taken to court to argue his decision, and there is a chance he could not succeed.

Here’s W.Va. Code Chapter 29B, Article 1:

Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government which holds to the principle that government is the servant of the people, and not the master of them, it is hereby declared to be the public policy of the state of West Virginia that all persons are, unless otherwise
expressly provided by law, entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments of government they have created. To that end, the provisions of this article shall be liberally construed with the view of carrying out the above declaration of public policy.


Hancock County Sherriff taking stand on FOI request


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