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Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act. Heather Willis Neal Public Access Counselor Brownsburg Police Department February 26, 2008. Access to Public Records Act Basics.

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indiana s access to public records act

Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act

Heather Willis Neal

Public Access Counselor

Brownsburg Police Department

February 26, 2008

access to public records act basics
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • “Providing persons with the information is an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of public officials and employees, whose duty it is to provide the information.”
  • The full text of APRA can be found at I.C. 5-14-3.
access to public records act basics3
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • “Public records” are broadly defined: can be summarized as “any material that is created, received, retained, maintained or filed by or with a public agency.”
  • The Indiana Court of Appeals has added to this definition any material created for or on behalf of a public agency.
access to public records act basics4
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • “Copy” includes photocopying as well as making a digital copy using a digital camera or a hand-held scanner.
  • “Inspect” includes the right to make notes, abstracts and memoranda, or to listen to an audiotape.
access to public records act basics5
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • The agency may require a person to submit a request for a public record in writing, on or in a form supplied by the agency.
  • The agency shall either make the requested copy or allow the person to make a copy on the agency’s equipment or on the person’s own equipment.
access to public records act basics6
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • An agency must make reasonable efforts to provide a copy of electronic data to a person if the medium requested is compatible with the agency’s system.
  • If a record contains disclosable and nondisclosable information, the agency shall separate the disclosable material and make it available.
access to public records act basics7
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • Public Agency’s Responsibility
    • Respond to requests made in person or over telephone within 24 hours of receipt.
    • Respond to mailed, faxed, or e-mailed requests within 7 calendar days of receipt.
    • Respond in writing to written requests for records; best practice is to respond to all requests in writing.
    • Responding is not necessarily producing the record.
access to public records act basics8
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • Agency’s Responsibility, continued
    • If denying records, state reason for denial with citation to authority, and give name and title or position of person responsible for denial.
    • Produce records in reasonable time; communication with person requesting is key.
access to public records act basics9
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • Exemptions to disclosure I.C. § 5-14-3-4
    • Section 4(a) categories are confidential
    • Declared confidential by state statute
    • Required to be kept confidential by federal law
    • Patient medical records created by a provider
    • Declared confidential by rule adopted by Indiana supreme court (Administrative Rule 9)
access to public records act basics10
Access to Public Records Act Basics
  • Exemptions to disclosure I.C. § 5-14-3-4
    • Most juvenile investigatory records are confidential under I.C. § 31-39-3-4
      • Certain records must be released when information contained in the records involve allegations of delinquency that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult
      • Records related to the detention of any juvenile in a secure facility must be made available for public inspection and copying
access to public records act basics11
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • Section 4(b) are discretionary categories
    • Investigatory records of law enforcement

Information compiled during the course of an investigation of a crime

    • Exemption may still be claimed if charges are not brought or if case has been adjudicated
access to public records act basics12
Access to Public Records Act Basics
  • Other Section 4(b) discretionary categories
    • Attorney work product
    • Personnel file information, except for information that must be disclosed
    • Telephone number, address, and social security number of a customer of a municipally-owned utility
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Access to Public Records Act Basics
  • Law enforcement records which must be provided I.C. § 5-14-3-5
    • Information relating to arrest and summons:

Person’s name, age and address

Information concerning charges

Time and location of arrest, arresting officer, arresting law enforcement agency

access to public records act basics14
Access to Public Records Act Basics
  • Law enforcement records which must be provided I.C. § 5-14-3-5
    • Information relating to jail or lock-up:

Person’s name, age and address

Information concerning reason for lock-up

Date and time person was received and discharged

Amount of bail

access to public records act basics15
Access to Public Records Act Basics
  • Law enforcement records which must be provided I.C. § 5-14-3-5
    • An agency shall maintain a daily log of suspected crimes, accidents or complaints; the following is public information:
      • Time, substance, location of complaints or requests for assistance
      • Time and nature of response
      • Crime information: time, date, location of occurrence; name and age of victim; factual circumstances; description of injuries, weapons
access to public records act basics16
Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • Fees
    • Local agencies may charge only the fee schedule adopted by the fiscal body of the agency.
    • May not exceed the actual cost for providing a copy of the public record.
    • Actual cost is the cost of the paper and per page cost for use of the equipment.
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Access to Public Records ActBasics
  • Fees, continued
    • APRA’s general provisions on fees are superseded by a specific statute allowing higher fee.
    • Agencies may require advance payment.
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Access to Public Records Act Basics
  • Retention of records
    • The APRA requires an agency to protect records from loss, alteration, mutilation, or destruction.
    • Each county should have a commission on public records to adopt retention schedules. The state oversight committee on public records has set general retention schedules for cities and towns which can be found at www.in.gov/icpr/county/coretention.
access to public records act enforcement provisions
Access to Public Records ActEnforcement Provisions
  • A person may file a complaint with the public access counselor alleging a denial of a right under APRA. The PAC sends formal complaint to the agency for response and issues a formal advisory opinion within 30 days.
  • A person may file a lawsuit in superior court to compel the agency to produce a record.
office of the public access counselor
Office of the Public Access Counselor
  • Our contact information
    • 402 West Washington Street, W460

Indianapolis 46204

    • Fax: 317.233.3091
    • Toll free: 800.228.6013
    • Phone: 317.234.0906
  • Visit our website at www.in.gov/pac for 48-page handbook and advisory opinions