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Statewide police accountability legislation moves to committee after first reading

The rotunda of the Wyoming State Capitol during the 67th Legislature. (Megan Lee Johnson/WyoFile)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Looking at enhancing transparency and accountability within law enforcement, the Wyoming Legislature has unanimously advanced House Bill 0031. Sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee, the bill mandates that personnel files of peace officers, detention officers, corrections officers and dispatchers be accessible to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission under specific conditions.

The bill sailed through the House with a decisive 61–0 vote, showing bipartisan support for the measure.

Under HB0031, law enforcement agencies are required to make relevant portions of an officer’s personnel file available to the Standards and Training Commission upon request. This request can be made for purposes such as investigating or determining an officer’s certification status, including initial certification, continuing certification, suspension, revocation or termination.

Balancing privacy and oversight: details of the proposed legislation

The proposed legislation specifies that the requested personnel file information, while accessible to the commission, shall not be disclosed to any other parties except as required by law. This measure aims to strike a balance between the need for oversight and the protection of individual privacy rights.

Agencies failing to comply with a request for information within 30 days may face a petition from the commission to the district court for the release of the requested files.

Further and financial impact of the legislation

Set to take effect on July 1 if passed, this legislation shows Wyoming’s proactive stance on law enforcement accountability. By ensuring that the Standards and Training Commission has access to pertinent personnel files, the bill could help foster a culture of transparency that reinforces public trust in its law enforcement agencies.

The fiscal impact of the bill on the judicial system remains indeterminate, with no significant fiscal or personnel impact anticipated for the Department of Corrections or the Attorney General’s Office.

As the bill progresses through the legislative process, its implications for law enforcement practices and public safety in Wyoming will continue to be a focal point of discussion among policymakers. More information on House Bill 0031 can be found on the legislature website.