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2. Police blotter

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  • Alabama

    The police blotter is a public record under the authority of Birmingham News Co. v. Watkins, No. 38389 (Cir. Ct. of Jefferson County, Ala., Oct. 30, 1974) (based upon First Amendment, not Public Records Law, with discretion for police department to withhold portions of records or entire records if and as necessary to prevent “actual interference” with law enforcement); see also Op. Att’y Gen. Ala. No. 97-00043 (Nov. 27, 1996) (Alabama Uniform Incident/Offense Report is public record, but “portions of such reports may be kept confidential and not subject to public disclosure, especially any portion the disclosure of which would compromise criminal investigations, result in potential harm to innocent persons or infringe upon the constitutional rights of the accused”); Birmingham News Co. v. Jones, CV-00-677 (Cir. Ct. of Shelby County, Ala., Oct. 27, 2000) (back side of Alabama Uniform Incident/Offense Report is work product of officer and therefore not subject to public inspection; front side is generally public record but sensitive information, such as social security numbers, may be redacted on case-by-case basis).

    The sheriff’s department is required to expunge identifying information from its records and website, including the booking photograph, of individuals who are released without being charged or cleared of an offense. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 2007-052, 2007 Ala. AG LEXIS 25 (Feb. 26, 2007).

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  • Alaska

    Police blotters, like other documents in the custody or control of law enforcement or other public officials, should be disclosable pursuant to the state Public Records Act, but as a practical matter will most likely be redacted, under one or more of the provisions of AS 40.25.120(a)(6), especially (a)(6)(C), that permits withholding when disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a suspect, defendant, victim, or witness, or perhaps (a)(6)(A), regarding withholding of records that could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. Also, documents are sometimes withheld (improperly, since only redactions should be warranted) allegedly based on compliance with statutes protecting the rights of victims.  For example, the portion of the records of a court or law enforcement agency that contains the name of the victim of an offense under AS 11.41.300(a)(1)(c) or 11.41.410-11.41.460 must be withheld from public inspection, except with the consent of the court in which the case is or would be prosecuted; and is not a public record under AS 40.25.110 et seq., the Public Records Act. 12.61.140(a).  The offenses covered in these criminal code sections are, in general, sexual assaults, sexual abuse of a minor, incest, online enticement or unlawful exploitation of a minor, indecent exposure, and kidnapping in which the kidnapper restrains the victim with the intent to inflict physical injury upon or sexually assault the restrained person or place the restrained person or a third person in apprehension that any person will be subjected to serious physical injury or sexual assault.

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  • Arizona

    Not addressed.

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  • Arkansas

    No case or statute specifically references a police blotter in relation to the FOIA. Information that would be contained in such a report—such as arrest records, jail logs, and incident reports—are subject to disclosure under the FOIA when they are not clearly investigative. Hengel v. City of Pine Bluff, 307 Ark. 457, 821 S.W.2d 761 (1991).

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  • California

    Public as to information that is expressly stated to be subject to disclosure in the statute. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(f)(1), (2) and (3).

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  • Connecticut

    In Town of Trumbull v. FOIC, 5 Conn. L. Trib. No. 34 (1979), the Superior Court held that daily activity sheets, after the deletion of certain exempt information, were not exempt from disclosure under FOIA.

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  • Delaware

    Not specified.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    Initial police arrest reports and initial incident reports are subject to the Act’s disclosure requirements.  O.C.G.A. 50-18-72(a)(4).

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  • Hawaii

    Police blotter data concerning adult offenders do not fall under any exception to the UIPA and therefore must be disclosed. Public Access to Police Blotter Information, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 91-4 (Mar. 25, 1991). This rule applies even where the arrestee was released without charges being filed or released pending further investigation. Police Blotter Information, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 07-04 (Mar. 22, 2007).

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  • Idaho

    These records are routinely made available to the public.

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  • Indiana

    The Access to Public Records Act requires police agencies to maintain a daily log or record that lists suspected crimes, accidents, or complaints. Ind. Code § 5-14-3-5(c). The record containing the information must be created not later than twenty-four hours after the suspected crime, accident, or complaint has been reported to the agency. Id.

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  • Iowa

    See generally Iowa Code § 22.7(5).

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  • Kansas

    Open to public. K.S.A. 45-217(b). The incident based reporting system code sheet used by law enforcement agencies is a public record that must be disclosed upon request. Kan. Att’y Gen. Op. 1993-09.

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  • Kentucky

    Open. See Cape Publications v. City of Louisville, 147 S.W. 3d 731, 733 (Ky. Ct. App. 2004) (“[P]olice incident reports are matters of public interest and are public records. 93-ORD-42, citing OAG 76-443. As a result, the public should be allowed to scrutinize the police to ensure they are complying with these statutory duties.”). However, certain information pertaining to individuals named in police records may be redacted. Ky. New Era v. City of Hopkinsville, 415 S.W.3d 76 (Ky. 2013).

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  • Louisiana

    Every law enforcement officer making an arrest must promptly book the individual arrested by entering certain specified information into a book kept for that purpose. La. Code Crim. P. Art. 228. The book and booking information summaries shall always be open for public inspection. Id.; La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:3(A)(4); Op. Att'y Gen. 78-1159. The information contained in an outstanding warrant is public record, and is not outweighed by privacy interests. Op. Att'y Gen. 95-294. Privacy interests do, however, prevent disclosure in a civil case of a party's "rap sheets" from the State's centralized computer-base. Ellerbe v. Andrews, 623 So. 2d 41 (La. App. 1st Cir. 1993).

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  • Maine

    All records of entry, such as calls for service, formerly known as “police blotters,” that are maintained by criminal justice agencies and that are compiled and organized chronologically are public records. 16 M.R.S.A. § 708(2).

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  • Maryland

    Arrest logs are not exempt from disclosure because they are not considered records of investigations or investigatory files. 63 Op. Att'y Gen. 543 (1978).  They are also specifically not included from the exemption for “Criminal history record information.” Md. Code, Criminal Procedure, §10-201(d)(3)(iii).

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  • Michigan

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Montana

    The initial incident report is public criminal justice information. Mont. Code Ann. § 44-5-104. An incident should not be “not reported or memorialized” so that the incident doesn’t have to be released to the public. See Mont. Code Ann. § 2-3-212. The initial incident report is the first recorded report that a criminal offense may have occurred, not that a criminal offense actually did occur. The following information must be included in the initial incident report and shown to the public by any officer or employee: 42 Mont. A.G. Op. 119 (1988):
    1) factual statement about the event which includes (but is not limited to):
    a) The general nature of the charges against the accused;
    b) The offense location
    c) The name, age and residence of the accused ,
    d) The name of the victim, unless the offense charged was a sex crime;
    e) The name of a witness, unless the witness has requested confidentiality.
    2) report of the seizure of any physical evidence (but not statements made by the accused), limited to a description of the evidence seized.

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  • Nebraska

    Police blotters are public records.  Neb. Rev. Stat. §29-3521 (Reissue 2016).

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  • Nevada

    Presumably open.

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  • New Hampshire

    Neither the Statute nor case law addresses this issue.

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  • New Jersey

    Police incident logs constitute “Government records” under OPRA and are not exempt as criminal investigatory records because there is no criminal investigation at the time a call is made and recorded in the incident log.

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  • New Mexico

    Police blotters generally include “the name, physical description, place and date of birth, address and occupation of persons arrested, the time and place of arrest, the offenses for which the individuals were arrested or detained, and the name of the arresting officer.”  New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance Guide, 11-12, (8th ed. 2015).  Police blotters are open to public inspection.  NMSA § 29-10-7.

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  • North Carolina

    Police blotters are not specifically addressed. the information identified by G.S. § 132-1.4(c) is public, regardless of where it is kept.

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  • North Dakota

    Generally open. See N.D.C.C. § 44-04-18.7(2).

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  • Ohio

    Police blotters are the functional equivalent of ordinary incident reports. Incident reports are public record. E.g., State ex rel. Miller v. Pinkney, 149 Ohio St.3d 662, 77 N.E.3d 915, 2017-Ohio-1335.

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  • Oklahoma

    Police blotters (51 O.S. § 24.A.1-3) and jail blotters (51 O.S. § 24.A.8) are public records under the Act.

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  • Oregon

    There is no statutory or case law specifically addressing this issue.

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  • Rhode Island

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • South Carolina

    “[R]eports which disclose the nature, substance, and location of any crime or alleged crime reported as having been committed” are subject to public inspection and copying subject to the power of a law enforcement agency to redact information the release of which would harm the agency in specified ways.  S.C. Code Ann. §§ 30-4-40(a)(3) and 30-4-50(A)(8); Evening Post Publishing Co. v. City of N. Charleston, 611 S.E.2d496 (S.C. 2005).  “[D]ocuments identifying persons confined in any jail, detention center, or prison for the preceding three months” are available for inspection and copying without the necessity of a written request when the person making the request appears in person at the jail.  S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-30(d)(3).

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  • South Dakota

    Open conditionally. “Information about calls for service revealing the date, time, and general location and general subject matter of the call…may be released….” SDCL §23-5-11.

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  • Tennessee

    Generally open.

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  • Texas

    A series of decisions involving the City of Houston and the Houston Chronicle Publishing Company has provided an imperfect outline of what basic police records are public or exempt. See Houston Chronicle Publg. Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177, 185 (Tex. Civ. App. ––Houston [14th Dist.] 1975, writ ref’d n.r.e.) (“Chronicle I”). The police “blotter,” “showup sheet,” and arrest sheet are not exempt from disclosure while the offense report, arrest record, and personal history are exempt. Id. The Attorney General specifically discussed the Chronicle I case in detail and concluded that public release is required of:

    1. Police blotter. (1) arrestee’s Social Security number, name, alias, race, sex, age, occupation, address, police department identification number, and physical condition; (2) name of arresting officer; (3) date and time of arrest; (4) booking information; (5)charge; (6) court in which charge is filed; (7) details of arrest; (8) notification of any release or transfer; (9) bonding information;
    2. Show-up sheet (chronological listing of people arrested during 24-hour period). (1) arrestee’s name, age, police department identification number; (2) place of arrest; (3) names of arresting officers; (4) numbers for statistical purposes relating to modus operandi of those apprehended;
    3. Arrest sheet (similar chronological listing of arrests made during 24-hour period). (1) arrestee’s name, race and age; (2) place of arrest; (3) names of the arresting officers; (4) offense for which suspect is arrested;
    4. Offense report-front page. (1) offense committed; (2) location of crime; (3) identification and description of complainant; (4) premises involved; (5) time of occurrence; (6) property involved; (7) vehicle involved; (8) description of weather; (9) detailed description of offense; (10) names of investigating officers.

    Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-127 (1976).

    Although in particular circumstances this list has been somewhat modified, it still accurately summarizes the basic test. Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-408 (1984).

    The Texas Family Code makes certain juvenile records open to the public. Tex. Fam. Code § 58.007. Accordingly, the Family Code does not make confidential juvenile law enforcement records concerning conduct occurring on or after January 1, 1996 that are maintained by law enforcement agencies. Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-644 (1996). Other statutory provisions and exceptions to disclosure may apply to this information. Law enforcement records concerning conduct that occurred before January 1, 1996, are governed by former Section 51.14(d) of the Family Code, which is continued in effect for that purpose. Id.

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  • Utah

    Law enforcement agencies’ chronological logs and initial contact reports are generally public records. Utah Code § 63G-2-301(3)(g).

    a. In Utah Dep’t of Pub. Safety v. State Records Comm., No. 100904439, at 3 (Utah 3d Dist. June 17, 2010), the court upheld the State Record Committee’s determination that the dash camera video and the DUI report form pertaining to former Utah Senator Sheldon Killpack’s traffic stop and arrest were initial contact reports under GRAMA and therefore public. In doing so, the court stated that GRAMA’s definition of “initial contact report” includes written as well as recorded records, and that a DUI report form is “prepared immediately following the incident and while the information is fresh in the reporting officer’s experience.” Id.

    b. In Weibel v. Logan City, No. 94-06 (Utah State Rec. Comm. May 9, 1994), the State Records Committee held that the portion of police reports pertaining to persons against whom Logan City contemplated no further action was public, but that the portion pertaining to persons against whom criminal action was contemplated or pending was protected.

    c. In Fox Television Stations v. Clary, No. 940700284 (Utah 2d Dist. Dec. 5, 1995), the court held that Sheriff Department reports containing information on sexual abuse of minor children were public records. Because the county had released another report that identified the victims and the person making the initial sexual abuse report, the court determined that the county was estopped from asserting confidential protection for the requested reports. In addition, the redaction of the victims’ names and other identifying information adequately protected any privacy interests.

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  • Vermont

    Police blotters are available under the Public Records Act.  See 1 V.S.A. § 317(5).  While not completely comprehensive, the Vermont State Police maintains a blog for significant criminal or public safety incidents and arrests.  See http://vtstatepolice.blogspot.com/.

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  • Virginia

    “Criminal incident information” for felony offenses, including a description of the criminal activity reported, the date and general location of the alleged crime, the identity of the investigating officer, and general description of the injuries, must be released upon request unless the release is likely to jeopardize an ongoing investigation or prosecution, or the safety of an individual, or result in the destruction of evidence, or could cause a suspect to flee. Va. Code. Ann. § 2.2-3706.A.1.

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  • Washington

    Police blotters, jail registers and incident reports are generally available prior to case closure. However, the Public Records Act seals law enforcement records if nondisclosure “is essential to effective law enforcement or for the protection of any person's right to privacy.” RCW 42.56.240(1). The Washington Criminal Records Privacy Act ("CRPA") prevents disclosure of certain criminal records, but does not apply to "[o]riginal records of entry maintained by criminal justice agencies" if the records are "compiled and maintained chronologically and are accessible only on a chronological basis." RCW 10.97.030(1)(b). Thus, most information in chronological incident reports and blotters is public under both the CRPA and the Public Records Act, but the requester would have to know the date of the incident to locate the document.

    The CRPA provides that records of convictions, other formal dispositions adverse to the subject and records of those currently in the criminal justice system (including those on parole) "may be disseminated without restriction." Records on charges that have not resulted in conviction or other adverse disposition and for which formal proceedings are complete are closed to the public. RCW 10.97.050.

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  • West Virginia

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Wisconsin

    Police blotters are public records without regard to the common law balancing test because “in every case the fact of an arrest and the charge upon which the arrest is made is a matter of legitimate public interest.” See Newspapers, Inc. v. Breier, 89 Wis. 2d 417, 436, 279 N.W.2d 179 (1979).

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  • Wyoming

    Open to the extent the blotter does not include information that results from an investigation and the release would impair the investigation.  See Sheridan v. Sheridan Newspapers.

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