From the Daily Reporter (Greenfield):
Q: For several years now, public safety agencies in Hancock County have not been compiling daily logs. Their response to our citations of the statute has been to include slightly more information in computer-aided dispatch records, which we get every day. Basically, the agencies now display a line or two of additional information from the narrative. That narrative is the dispatch notes that tapped out by a dispatcher as a police/fire/medic unit is being sent to the scene.
A: The reports you reference alone do not satisfy the statutory requirements of IC 5-14-3-5. So how does the department most effectively satisfy the requirement?
Access to a computer screen where the reporter/citizen could scroll through the reports and connect to incident reports would be one solution, although you’d still have to determine whether you then have a way to make copies or email files.
IC 5-14-3-3 does not require an agency to make electronic copies available, but it doesn’t prohibit them from doing so. I would think that if it made the job of meeting the Access to Public Records Act obligations easier for them, they probably would be agreeable.
Your most likely scenario would be to have a system where the reports are made available, and whenever an officer determines that a crime or infraction has occurred that they also go ahead and copy the sections of the incident report required to be released within 24 hours and make it available at the same time (when reporter or citizen requests to inspect or copy).
This would eliminate need to request incident report copies while inspecting the reports because they would already be copied.
It will mean some additional work for whoever has to make the redacted copies of the incident report, but that’s probably better for officers than getting a call while they are asleep following a 12-hour shift to track down a report that hasn’t already been copied. It might take some training of officers as to what must be included in released incident report and what they can rightly redact.
Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 624-4427.