New Jersey rolls back transparency

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie campaigned on promises of bringing increased transparency to New Jersey. Early on in his administration he launched a transparency website designed to highlight public information from state offices. Despite that, New Jersey last year the state comptroller issued a blistering report highlighting just how opaque the state really is. Now, the state Attorney General is moving further away from transparency by removing some state payroll information from the transparency website.

Any overtime accrued by state police officers will be omitted from the state transparency website and historic data is also being removed. According to Attorney General Paula Dow, this payroll information may expose police officers placed in sensitive situations.

Payroll data for local police departments will remain available to the public, but all state law enforcement officials will have their information removed. Annual evaluations and background checks on state troopers will also be blocked from the public.

Dow claims that the new rule only codifies existing state legal precedent for keeping such information private. A move that was apparently necessary after the data was erroneously included on the transparency website when it was created.

Dow and other state officials claim it is easy to tell where officers have been placed through overtime pay. If officers are placed in sensitive situations, they may be more vulnerable if this information is available to the public through the transparency website.

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