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Some state lawmakers want to roll back Virginia's new police documents law

Virginia has a new law that finally makes some police documents available to the public after the case has been closed. Lawmakers are trying to roll that back.

The fear that a Hollywood producer or true crime podcaster might get ahold of crime scene photos or video is prompting lawmakers to reconsider a new law making some police documents available in closed cases.

"Some things maybe are just better left unknown about people," says Senator Richard Stuart, a Republican from King George County.

"There are things that you could learn about a homicide victim, details about their life," Stuart adds. "Details that they did that may have not been illegal or immoral but that could change the way those people are thought of by the community they lived in and could devastate the family."

Senator Scott Surovell is a Democrat from Fairfax County who says a police shooting that happened near his house offers a good example of why the new law is working.

"The true facts of what had come out in that case would never have been revealed had the Fairfax County Police Department not released the dash cam footage demonstrating what occurred," Surovell says. "And the understanding of that event would have been markedly different had that footage not been released."

That's why he's hoping to narrow the focus of the rollback bill when it gets into a secret, closed-door conference committee.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.