Court: Police Complaints Are Public Documents

New Mexico – The state Court of Appeals has ruled that citizen complaints against police are public records and subject to disclosure under New Mexico law.

The Department of Public Safety contended that citizen complaints against law enforcement are confidential and protected from disclosure by an exception in the state's Inspection of Public Record Act for "matters of opinion in personnel files."

The Court of Appeals disagreed in a ruling issued Monday.

The case stemmed from a public records request filed in 2006 by a former captain with the state Motor Transportation Police Division, who was fired for making derogatory comments about a patrolman who was black. The records request was for citizen complaints against the patrolman.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.