Public Records Policy
It is the policy of the Elmore Police Department that openness leads to a better informed citizenry, which leads to better government and better public policy. It is the policy of the Elmore Police Department to strictly adhere to the state's Public Records Act. All exemptions to openness are to be construed in the narrowest sense and any denial of public records in response to a valid request must be accompanied by an explanation, including legal authority, as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code. If the request is in writing, the explanation must also be in writing.
Section 1 - Public Records
This office, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including, the following: Any document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, e-mail). Or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the jurisdiction of a public office that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office. All records of the Elmore Police Department are public unless specifically exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Revised Code.
It is the policy of the Elmore Police Department that, as required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so that they are readily available for inspection and copying (see section 4 for e-mail record policy). Record retention schedules are to be updated regularly.
Section 2 - Record Requests
Each request for public records should be evaluated for a response using the following guidelines:
Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requester must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the public office to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the records custodian must contact the requestor for clarification, and should assist the requestor in revising the request be informing the requestor of the manner in which the office keeps its records.
The requestor does not have to put the records request in writing, and does not have to provide his or her identity or the intended use of the requested public record. It is this office's general policy that this information is not to be requested.
Public records are available to inspection during regular business hours, with the exception of published holidays. Public records must be available for inspection promptly. Copies of public records must be made available within a reasonable period of time. "Prompt" and "reasonable" take into account the volume of records requested; the proximity of the location where the records are stored; and the necessity for any legal review of the records requested.
Each request should be evaluated for an estimated length of time required to gather the records. Routine requests for records should be satisfied immediately if feasible to do so. Routine requests include, but are not limited to, meeting minutes (both in draft and final form), budgets, salary information, forms, and applications, personnel rosters, ect. If fewer than 20 pages of copies are requested or if the records are available in an electronic format that can be e-mailed or downloaded easily, these should be made as quickly as the equipment allows.
All requests for public records must be either satisfied or be acknowledged in writing be the Elmore Police Department within three business days following the receipt of the request in writing. If a request is deemed significantly beyond "routine," such as seeking a voluminous number of copies or requiring extensive research, the acknowledgement must include the following:
- Estimated number of business days it will take to satisfy the request.
- Estimated cost if copies are requested.
- Items within the request that may be exempt from disclosure.
Any denial of public records requested must include an explanation, including legal authority. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions are to be redacted and the rest released. If there are redactions, each redaction must be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority.
Section 3 - Costs for Public Records
Those seeking public records may be charged only the actual cost of making copies.
The charge for paper copies is .10 cents per page. The charge for electronic files downloaded to a compact disk is $1.00 per disk. There is no charge for e-mailed documents. If a requestor asks that documents be mailed, the requestor may be charged the actual cost of the postage and mailing supplies.
Section 4 - Electronic Records
Records in the form of e-mail, text messaging, and instant messaging, including those sent and received via hand held communication devices are to be treated in the same fashion as records in other formats, such as paper or audiotape.
Public record content transmitted to or from private accounts or personal devices to conduct public business are subject to disclosure. All employees or representative of this department are required to retain their e-mail records and other electronic records in accordance with applicable records retention schedules.
Section 5 - Failure to Respond to a Public Records Request
The Elmore Police Department recognizes the legal and non-legal consequences of failure to properly respond to a public records request. In addition to the distrust in government that failure to comply may cause, the Elmore Police Department failure to comply with a request may result in court action.
Section 6 - Managing Records
The Elmore Police Department records are subject to records retention schedules. The office's records are available at the police station, located at 344 Rice St. Elmore, Ohio 43416, available to the public as required by S149.43(B)(2), Ohio Revised Code.