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Monday, September 24, 2007

A Wonderful Tale of FOI Woe...

An interesting tale of FOI nightmares...

This is the saga of the struggle to get police records and the kind of bureaucratic resistance you can find there. I'm still trying to decipher the records I did get in order to get some sense of the accuracy of Zach Friend's comments about the City Hall Sleep Out in early August.
On August 19th, the Sentinel came out with its Sunday smear job justifying the unconstitutional police sleepcrime ticketing of Homies for the Homeless at City Hall. SCPD PR propagandist Zach Friend returned one call then declined any further information.

On August 20th, I filed a Public Records Act requesting the "detailed incident summaries" of August 12-18 to determine just how many tickets and citations were issued for the alleged vandalism, bathroom littering, drug use, public sex, etc. etc. alleged by Friend in the Sentinel story.

Indymedia covered the story somewhat differently.

For some criticism of the Sentinel coverage see "Sleep Ban Fighters Regroup after Saturday Morning Police Raid."

The preliminary answer Trisha provided was that NO TICKETS were issued at City Hall during that week for anything other than sleeping, 2 on Monday August 13, 4 on Saturday August 18.

I wanted to go further to find out what the nature of the complaints were and who made them. To uncover this, I requested the detailed incident recall traffic (between the 911 dispatch and the cops responding) for that period of time.

I just wanted to view it, not buy copies. Records supervisor Trisha Husome refused.

I requested electronic copies. Records supervisor Trish Husome insisted they were not available.

I requested to know how much it would cost. Husome said there was no way of knowing. I'd have to deposit $35 and then pay overage, depending on what was printed up.

I then asked her to print out half the request, so that I could get a sense of how many pages were coming out and what I was getting. She insisted that a new Public Records Act request be made.

I did this under protest.

This time, somehow, she told me it would be $1. But she insisted I make another trip down to the police station to make the $1 deposit, and refused to take it out of the $35 deposit.

She also noted that they'd printed out the first half of the August 20th request for the Cithy Hall homeless "crime wave" and it was $6.75. I again requested she subtract $1 from the $28.25 cash of mine they still had. She refused, saying it was a "different request."

On the two occasions I visited the SCPD, she wasn't there nor was anyone there to cover for her department.

When I went in to pick up the records she'd printed out (Aug 12-14, the $t6.75 bundle) and attempted to put down $1, the SCPD workers at the desk refused to take the money and retreated to a backroom because I was making an audio recording to document what was going on. I waited 10-15 minutes with Andrew, a witness, and then left.

I've filed a complaint with Husome's superior about her behavior as well as my concern about the behavior of the clerks at the SCPD window (going on strike when I pulled out a tape recorder). No response.

But then, perhaps that's understandable. Husome's supervisor is none other than Deputy Chief Kevin Vogel, the cost-conscious police official who saved the department money by investigating himself and giving himself a clean bill of health in the political infiltration and spying case of 1 1/2 years ago. [See "Investigation Reveals More SCPD Spying"

I was aware that the courts were calling sheriffs, delaying the presentation of records, requiring a special viewing room, etc in order to slow down our access to Sleeping Ban court cases [See "Public Records, even just one? Only if you agree to pay!" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/06/30/18431926.php] But courts are exempted from the Public Records Act (though they are required to follow the California Rules of Court, and the SCPD is not.


The Geezer said...

charles--any time you request 911 tapes, also request all backchannel communications (car to car) on the incident.

Learned that one from a Seattle PD friend of mine.

The Geezer

National Freedom of Information Coalition said...

Nice tip...thx