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Open records survey reveals 70 percent compliance

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         NEW MEXICO         Freedom of Information         Dec 22, 2000    

Open records survey reveals 70 percent compliance

  • A statewide open records survey, like many previous state surveys, showed law enforcement agencies are the worst offenders in giving out records.

New Mexico is the latest in a line of states to put open records laws to the test with a compliance survey. The results produced a familiar criticism — police departments are typically the worst offenders of the open records law. In at least 18 states, news media and/or others have conducted state-wide surveys to learn how their open records laws are working.

New Mexico news media surveyed 210 government offices across the state between July and November. Overall, surveying requesters were denied open records 30 percent of the time. County and city law enforcement agencies were by far the most frequent violators with county sheriff’s offices denying records 42 percent of the time and city police offices denying records 34 percent of the time.

Magistrate courts refused to provide records in response to 35 percent of requests they received. County administrative offices denied requests 19 percent of the time and city administrative offices denied requests 22 percent of the time. In 27 percent of public school districts, requests were wrongfully denied. One out of every 10 colleges and universities denied access to requested records.

The Associated Press, newspapers belonging to the New Mexico Press Association and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government conducted the survey through oral and written requests to the departments and agencies.

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© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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