Q&A: Statistical fee

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From the Herald-Times (Bloomington):

Q: The Bloomington Police Department wants to impose a statistical search fee of $5 per hour and require an initial fee of $5 to be paid to get a records search started of runs to a particular location over the past three years. Are these fees allowed under law? 

A: I’m not aware of any statute authorizing a statistical search fee. You can ask them to cite the code that would allow for such a charge for producing public records. The only possibility I see would be if the request requires the agency to do some programming to extract the requested information. There is a provision to recover such costs, but only for the first person to ask for the records requiring the programming. This though appears to be a search charge, and IC 5-14-3-8(b)(2) prohibits such a fee.

As to an initial fee of $5, that would be allowed if the fee is a down payment on the copying fee they will be charging. They can collect the estimated amount of the copying fee prior to searching for the copies to make sure the requester won’t change his or her mind because of the cost for making the copies after the agency has done all the work of making them.

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