Public Access to Kentucky State Police Records Emily Perkins [email protected] Basic Provisions of the Act • Codified in KRS 61.870 to 61.884. • Allows the general public access to records of local, county, and state government agencies. • “public records” includes written or electronic documents, photographs, maps, audio or video recordings or any other documentation created, maintained, or possessed by a public agency. Right to Inspection • KRS 61.872 provides rights to any person or organization to inspect or obtain a copy of a public agency’s records. • KRS 61.872(2) states that the public agency may require written application, and that any written application shall be hand delivered, mailed, or sent via facsimile to the public agency. • KRS 61.872(3)(b) states that the requesting party must precisely describe the records sought Agency Obligations • KRS 61.872(5) provides that public agencies shall respond to the request for public records within three (3) days of the receipt of the application. (Excluding weekends and holidays.) • If agency records are in active use, in storage, or otherwise not immediately available the Official Custodian will notify the applicant and designate the earliest date when the public record will be available. Fees for Production of Records • KRS 61.874 allows public agencies to prescribe fees. Fees for non-commercial purposes are as follows: – – – – Paper documents are $.10 per page Compact Discs or cassette tapes are $3.00 each Photographs are $2.00 each If records are requested in a non-standard format, agencies may recover staff costs as well as actual costs incurred. Records Requests for Commercial Purposes • Merely publishing or broadcasting news is not deemed a “commercial purpose”. • Public agencies may require a certified statement from the requestor stating the commercial purpose for which they shall be used, and may require the requestor to enter into a contract with the agency. • Fees for commercial purpose may include the costs to the public agency of media, processing, and the staff that is required to create or purchase the public records. Damages for misuse of public records • KRS 61.8745 provides that any person who violates the subsections (2) to (6) of KRS 61.874 shall be liable to a public agency for three (3) times the amount that would have been charged for the public record if the actual commercial purpose for which it was used had been stated. Additionally the agency is entitled to costs, attorneys fees, or other penalties established by law. Exemptions to the Act • The following exemptions are specific to law enforcement records: – Open/pending criminal investigations are exempt pursuant to KRS 17.150(2) and 61.878(1)(h). • Cases remain exempt until prosecution is complete (which includes time until which all possible appeals are exhausted) or prosecution is declined. • Cases include attachments that are exempt from production while the case is open, such as 911 recordings, photographs, dispatch logs, witness statements, etc. Exemptions to the Act – NCIC/LINK or centralized intelligence database information/documents are exempt pursuant to KRS 17.150(4). – Accident reports are confidential records, but are releasable to the media pursuant to KRS 189.635. – Records pertaining to juvenile criminal offenders is confidential pursuant to KRS 610.320(3). – All Concealed Carry Deadly Weapons permits, applications, and database are confidential pursuant to KRS 237.110. – There are other exemptions allowed by state and federal statutes and regulations. Common Misperceptions of the Act • Public access to local, county, and state agency records is governed by the Kentucky Open Records Act codified in KRS 61.870 to 61.884. The federal Freedom of Information Act provisions DO NOT APPLY. Common Misperceptions of the Act • The agency is not required to produce the actual records within three (3) days. Rather, the act requires the agency to advise the requester whether the records are immediately available, whether the records will be produced, and of the earliest possible date of production. Helpful Hints • Many requests received from the media seem to assume that the Official Custodian will be aware of the situation surrounding the request and the records about which the media is requesting documentation. When drafting a request for records include in your request who, what, when, and where, as well as the specific records that you are seeking to obtain. • Make sure your request contains your return contact information, including mailing address, facsimile number, and telephone number, and submit to the agency’s Official Custodian of Records. Helpful Hints • Submit requests for accident reports, information on recent incidents, arrest data, etc., to the KSP Public Affairs Officer at the Post in the area where the incident took place. • Submit requests for full death or criminal investigations, audio recordings, dispatch logs, etc., to the KSP Official Custodian of Records. KSP’s Official Custodian of Records • The Kentucky State Police has only one Official Custodian of Records. • Contact information is as follows: Emily M. Perkins KSP Headquarters 919 Versailles Road Frankfort, KY 40601 Fax: 502-573-1636 Questions?