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Sunshine: Judge makes right call on Florida school video

Sunshine: Judge makes right call on Florida school video

March 18th, 2018 by Gazette Staff in Opinion Editorial

Yesterday ended the annual spotlight on open government and access to public information called Sunshine Week.

And something very important happened during this year's event.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled the public has a right to view surveillance video showing what happened outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., during the terrible tragedy that claimed 17 lives last month.

The video is of special interest to many since it shows the actions of Deputy Scot Peterson, who was armed and assigned to the school but who never entered the building to engage the shooter.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office has tried to keep the video out of the public eye, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation. The school board agreed.

We, like most of the media, did not. Nor did the judge, who didn't find the arguments for keeping the video away from the nosy press and public to be compelling. The video was released Thursday.

Many have wondered what the sheriff's office and school were trying to hide. As it turns out there's really nothing in the video they should have been worried about. Their opposition was an all-too-common overreaction where government agencies "circle the wagons." Blocking the video looked worse than anything on the tape could have.

The judge's decision was a win for open government and the public's right to know. It was also a win for the sheriff and school, whether they know it or not.

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