Q&A: Getting mug shots

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From The Herald-Times (Bloomington):

Q: The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office tells us that they do not have to provide mug shots outside of normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

I don’t see anything in the Access to Public Records Act that says we can’t get mug shots outside the hours of 8 to 4. 

A: The Access to Public Records Act says requests should be made during normal business hours of a public agency.

The unanswered question for police agencies is what their normal business hours are: Twenty-four hours a day since they are always on duty or only the hours of the office staff?

Nothing prevents them from giving you documents, photos, etc., any time, but nothing requires them to give you mug shots or anything when they aren’t open to the public.

I’d suggest the newspaper sit down with the sheriff and talk about the problem to see if a shift commander or someone can help with the photo requests during odd hours of the day or on weekends.

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

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