Q&A: Police and jail logs


From The Herald-Press (Huntington):

Q: I am trying to access arrest information from our local jail and daily logs from our central dispatch for city and county law enforcement.

Currently, I receive jail logs perhaps two to three times a week and will not receive logs from Friday through Tuesday until Wednesday. In regards to the daily logs, I have not received them from the city in more than a year. The county logs are received most days, but there have been periods of up to a week where I have not received them.

When I requested the information in person (generally they are emailed to our newsroom), I was told they were not available. Can you explain what a “reasonable time” would be in these instances for the newspaper to access these records?

A: The daily log information on crimes, accidents, re­quests for assistance, etc., should be available on a daily basis per the Access to Public Records Act [See IC 5-14-3-5(c)].

The jail and arrest information language doesn’t contain a specific deadline [see IC 5-15-3-5(a) & (b)], but the information is collected routinely and daily, so you should ask the department why they delay in releasing that information. It seems like it should be available Monday to Friday when the office staff is available to compile the information from a request.

From my reporting experience (albeit a couple of decades ago), the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department and Noblesville Police Department were able to have information available for me to pick up from the jail and city police department on a daily basis.

I don’t know why it would take longer now with the advancement of technology.

You may need to have a conversation with the sheriff and police chief to understand why there is a delay and whether it is reasonable.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.