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Thread: Police Records No Longer Open in Many Communities

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    Founder's Club Member protias's Avatar
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    Police Records No Longer Open in Many Communities

    http://wauwatosa.patch.com/articles/...ny-communities

    This can have a devastating effect on proving/disproving police harassment in court.
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    Quote Originally Posted by protias View Post
    http://wauwatosa.patch.com/articles/...ny-communities

    This can have a devastating effect on proving/disproving police harassment in court.

    Interesting topic but how is it connected to OC and is it a good or bad thing?

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    http://www.dailyherald.com/article/2...ews/309019804/

    In respect to parking tickets, the redaction may be seen as admitting guilt.

    Parking tickets are just notices, not complaints. The information required to be on notices are generally listed in state and municipal laws. If they go beyond what is required, then they may get into trouble...

    As far as accident reports etc. its a good question but I would think that almost all of that would be available under a FOIA request.

    http://www.ficlaw.com/publications/f...rs_privacy.pdf


    For a review of the federal law that governs the information ... I guess in Illinois they have a similar statue that provides a $2500 penalty

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    Regular Member MKEgal's Avatar
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    Fear over multimillion dollar lawsuits has prompted many departments to strictly follow requirements in the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act that may or may not apply. And in doing so, they're violating the state's open records law.
    Are we back into a states' rights problem? Which law is subordinate? And does the federal law really say that information not directly obtained from the DL scheme may be released?

    Most area municipal officials are well aware that the state’s open records law requires departments to release their reports — including the names and other information about the people they arrest and speak to during an investigation — to the public. But the state’s open records law has no financial penalty, and departments found to have violated the law must simply release the record and pay attorney’s fees.
    Incorrect.
    While lawyer's fees are usually the largest part of the check written to the victims, there is a minumum $100 penalty. I think that should be increased to $1000, an amount more likely to get their attention & remind them not to be bad, and if they have a history of misbehaving the mandatory minimum should be much larger.

    19.31 is the WI open records law.
    19.37 is the damages & penalties section
    (2)(a) says in part
    the court shall award reasonable attorney fees, damages of not less than $100, and other actual costs to the requester if the requester prevails in whole or in substantial part
    (3) says
    If a court finds that an authority ... has arbitrarily and capriciously denied or delayed response to a request or charged excessive fees, the court may award punitive damages to the requester.
    I think that needs to be changed to "shall award" and specify a minimum amount, maybe $5000?

    For well over a decade, Wisconsin law enforcement agencies largely ignored the [driver's privacy protection act], which puts in place steep penalties for anyone who improperly releases personal information obtained from Department of Motor Vehicle records. But the law provides several exceptions for law enforcement agencies and states [that] it doesn’t trump state laws, like Wisconsin's open records law.
    Maybe if they'd be careful about releasing info which came from the DL database they wouldn't be having trouble, worried about being sued. Because, much as I wish the law were different, it sounds like information from other sources is generally OK to release.

    Attorney Claire Silverman encouraged departments to redact all information that could be traced back to the DMV. Because that information is inextricably linked with police records, departments following the recommendation are redacting nearly all personal information.
    The centralized databases of drivers’ information let officers look up drivers, car registrants and open warrants, but under this interpretation of the federal privacy act, also means that as soon as an officer plugs a person’s information into that system, they can no longer release it as part of a report.
    Again, it seems to me that only info specific to that database is protected (as well as personal info like SSN).
    If someone's name could be obtained through other means, it's not protected.
    I wish it were different, because it would have been a whole lot less embarrassment for me when I was wrongfully arrested, but even so, I disagree with their interpretation.

    The potential for hugely damaging lawsuits filed by anyone who believes their personal information has been improperly disclosed in the course of regular government business, Sorenson said, is “the definition of a chilling effect.”
    Good. Although I've never heard "chilling effect" applied to anyone but citizens, real people (being the victims).
    If they follow the law, they're much less likely to be successfully sued.
    Last edited by MKEgal; 04-26-2013 at 11:09 PM.

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    Thanks for the information MKEgal ... my state's (CT) FOIA act does allow for sanctions, up to 1K, but not for recovery of fees and it must be heard before a retarded admin agency that takes 1 yr to hear and decide cases.

    I like WI's scheme better.

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    MKEgal,

    Thank you so much for the effort you have put into learning how this system works in the land of milk and honey.
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    Regular Member MKEgal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E6chevron
    MKEgal,
    Thank you so much for the effort you have put into learning how this system works in the land of milk and honey.
    LOL It's sort of on-the-job training, not something I asked for, but something I've had to learn.
    A couple of the things under my name on CCAP are open records cases.
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