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By: Jeremy Moser | firstname.lastname@example.org
Radford University officially confirmed that it would not be releasing surveillance footage of The Tartan’s missing newspapers critical to the investigation of the disappearance of our newspapers Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The Tartan sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the university asking for the surveillance footage Sept. 24. Radford’s FOIA manager, Karen Casteele, secretary to the Board of Visitors, replied withholding the footage under a statutory exemption.
The Virginia FOIA specifies categories of documents and information that are exempt from mandatory surrender upon request.
The Code of Virginia § 2.2-3706. (B) (1) Stipulates that “[t]hose portions of noncriminal incident or other noncriminal investigative reports or materials that contain identifying information of a personal, medical, or financial nature…where the release of such information would jeopardize the safety or privacy of any person,” are exempt from FOIA requests.
Because of this exemption, the surveillance footage will be kept from the public for the duration of the investigation.
It has been nearly five weeks since over 1000 copies of The Tartan’s Sept. 18 issue were taken from our newsstands. In that time, we have had numerous communications with the Radford University Police Department (RUPD) about their investigation into our newspapers.
On Oct. 15, RUPD Chief David Underwood spoke with The Tartan, assuring us that the investigation into the missing newspapers is a “priority.” He said this is because of the importance of protecting freedom of the press on campus and because many students care about the case.
According to Underwood, RUPD has acquired the surveillance footage, is currently looking through it, and is conducting interviews for their investigation. Underwood also confirmed these things with The Tartan’s advisor, Leigh Anne Kelly.
The Tartan will continue to investigate this case and report on more updates when available.
Photo Credit: (Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)