Sunday, November 28, 2010


Writing public records requests, when you're not looking for a specific record, is awkward.

I drafted the requests to send to the police department this week. And trying to follow the typical request is difficult when you're not looking for one document. what I'm looking for is access.

The part about the fee is a little awkward to write as well.

Here's the draft of the letter. I'd appreciate feedback.

Dear Washington Police Department:

Pursuant to the North Carolina General Statute 132‑1.4 I would like the ability to obtain copies of police reports with all information the law requires. The original reports the department gave me took out the information of the nature of the crime when it covered the "status" codes on top of the property section of the report.

When it was deleted, it was written on top "Deleted in accordance with N.C. G.S. 132 1.4-j". That statute reads:

"(j) When information that is not a public record under the provisions of this section is deleted from a document, tape recording, or other record, the law enforcement agency shall make clear that a deletion has been made. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the destruction of the original record."

First, on the copy, there is clearly a staple — yet I received no second page. It is not made clear that a deletion has been made. Second, this statute does not allow any and all information to be sensored. 134.1.4-c lists the following as things that cannot be censored:

1) The time, date, location, and nature of a violation or apparent violation of the law reported to a public law enforcement agency.

I did not receive on this report the nature of the violation.

I am attaching a copy of the police report I received for reference.

North Carolina General Statute 132‑6.2 explicitly states each exception where a government may charge more than the explicit fee of making the copy. Crime reports are not included. I know the Department normally charges $5 per report. The normal costs for the police report range from $.5 to $.25. $5 is excessive.

I understand that if I seek a copy of this record, there may be a copying fee. Please inform me of that cost prior to making the copy. I can be reached at 919.455.7739.

According to the statute, this request should be acted upon as soon as possible, but in no event later than the third business day following receipt of this letter. If access to the records I requested is going to take longer, please contact me so we can work out a reasonable date.

If you choose to deny the request, then you are required to respond in writing and state the statutory exception authorizing the withholding of all or part of the public record and the name and title or position of the person responsible for the denial.

Thank you for your assistance on this matter.

Kelly Poe

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