January 12, 2007

San Leandro Police Department Fails to Obey Public Records Law

According to a newly issued report entitled "Audit Report 2007: Public Access to Law Enforcement Information" by Californians Aware, the San Leandro Police Department failed to respond to a written request as required by the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

Californians Aware is a non-profit organization devoted to protecting open government laws and First Amendment rights. In December 2006, Californians Aware conducted a state-wide audit of how well California’s law enforcement agencies comply with the CPRA. The CPRA was enacted in 1968 to ensure public access to information on how state and local governments conduct business.

According to Richard P. McKee, president of Californians Aware, the requests were for "information expressly identified by law as available to the public (e.g., the police chief’s employment contract and Form 700; the officers’ salary schedule; the most recent death in custody report; and the name, occupation, birth date, and sex of all persons arrested for robbery, burglary, or sexual assault during a two-week period, along with the date, time, and location of the arrest)."

Homeowners associations have frequently requested information about crime in their areas from the San Leandro Police Department, with limited success.

Police departments in Fremont, Santa Clara, Pleasanton, and St. Helena also failed to respond to written requests. Police departments in Oakland, San Jose, Los Gatos, American Canyon, Berkeley, Redwood City and San Mateo wouldn't accept written requests at all. The Sacramento County Sheriffs Office asked for the Social Security number of the requestor, which is against the law, while the San Mateo Police Department asked for $50 to lookup each arrest and crime record. The law only permits charges for photocopies.

Other links:
Californians Aware press release
Op-ed by Californians Aware president Richard McKee
Daily Review coverage

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at January 12, 2007 12:36 PM | TrackBack

my ex-wife was a real estate agent, and her company had always pressured the police, sheriff, and CHP not to release crime statistic reports, fearing it would be used as bargaining leverage to lower the asking price on real estate. The real estate industry has been very successful in keeping earthquake fault zones as public record. You can easily look at a large California map to find the fault lines, but if you want to expand that map to see where it goes through a residential neighborhood, that's where you've run into a dead zone.

Posted by: Passingtrucker at December 26, 2008 6:10 AM
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