11 October 2007

pineville keeps police blotter secret

retired pineville police captain kenneth johnson first made the blogosphere on 11 august 2007 in our post retired pineville, la. police capt. alleges theft & malfeasance in the pineville p.d.

you might recall that capt. johnson made available to you in that post, himself, in the form of two audio interviews as well as the copy of a letter complaint capt. johnson submitted to louisiana attorney general charlie foti.

it looks like since august capt. johnson has submitted several public records requests to pineville. one portion of capt. johnson's request we find especially interesting is number 3) shown in the below screen grab from his public records request and pineville's response to it.

capt. johnson is requesting the arrest report and/or booking report for anyone pineville arrested during the month of september 2007. pineville in their response below cites louisiana revised statute 44:3 and claims, erroneously, that their arrest and booking report is exempt because its "part of pending criminal litigation or criminal litigation which can be reasonably anticipated and are therefore exempt from disclosure." this is an outright lie.

when someone is arrested their name, along with the date and time and the nature of the offense is recorded by the police -- some places call it the "police blotter" and its a public record. newspapers print the police blotter on a regular basis. whats exempt is any information that the detectives gather in the course of preparing the case for trial i.e. the investigation.

this police blotter information is all that capt. johnson is seeking. the same law that pineville's attorneys cite La. R.S. 44:3 as making the police blotter exempt -- plainly says just a few lines down that the police blotter shall be a public record :

However, the initial report of the officer or officers investigating a complaint, but not to apply to any followup or subsequent report or investigation, records of the booking of a person as provided in Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 228, records of the issuance of a summons or citation, and records of the filing of a bill of information shall be a public record. ~ La. R.S. 44:3(4)(a).
as you can see from reading louisiana code of criminal procedure article 228, any citizen has the right to go down to the police station or the sheriffs department and see the list of people who have been arrested. pineville is saying oh no you dont -- its a secret. whats worse is that licensed attorneys who are supposed to know better are writing letters, lying, telling citizens they dont have that right. wtf

click here to download 1mb six page request & response .pdf

how long is pineville and their attorneys going to be allowed to flaunt the law like this? and use their positions as officers of the court, in the case of the lawyers and as supporters of the constitution as elected officers have sworn to do, to subvert the law? and how long are the citizens and taxpayers of pineville going to finance it all?