Hammer is right to be concerned about additional delay to a process that is already woefully slow and I have a convenient and disturbing recent example.
Two weeks to forward a message from the Chief of PoliceIn July of last year, I made a request for records documenting access to City surveillance cameras. In recent months, I have been going back and forth with a city public relations employee about why the response to my request only included information about private security guards (no city employees or others). After months of what felt like banging my head against a wall, the employee admitted she did not have an answer for that and said she would forward my question to others, including the Police Department, for an answer.
The next day, on a Saturday, no less, Police Chief Ken Miller responded to the city employee. When did I finally receive the Chief's response? Two weeks later.
That's right, the Chief of Police jumps to answer a citizen's question on a weekend and the City's handler lets it hibernate in her inbox for two weeks before forwarding it along (and that only after the Chief's reply was misrepresented to me and I asked for his original response—more on that in a minute). Hammer is right to be concerned.
Here is the header from the Chief's original response:
Here it is being forwarded to me:
Get me a rewrite!As I mentioned, I had to prod the City employee to send me the Chief's email after I received from her what she falsely represented as quotations from the Chief of Police and a police officer. Yes, she took emails sent to her, rewrote them, put them in quotation marks and wrote, "Here is the response I received..." (and sent it 12 days after the Chief's response.) Here is what she sent:
Good evening,Here is the actual email from the Chief. The portions edited by the City employee are in brackets:
Here is the response that I received from the Police Chief and also from the Officer who supervises Lankford who provides our security for facilities:
“The City hires Lankford to provide security to facilities, which includes monitoring City cameras in the video room. GPD cannot access these cameras from the cars and Police does not yet have a command center, so Lankford would be the City’s eyes/ears on the cameras.”
“Two unarmed Lankford Security Service Officers monitor the cameras in the Camera Room located in the basement of the MMOB. The Camera Room is a secure room with a swipe card access. The only people who have access to the room are the two Security Officers, the Police Lieutenant who supervises facilities security and the three Security Office employees. If a visitor comes to the Security Office to request a video a request form must be completed by the requesting party, reviewed by and approved by Police. Also anyone that comes into the room must fill out a roster form that is kept at the entrance to the room. The Security Guards gain access to the system through a password protected log in. David Hayes (City IT) is the System Administrator.”
The City hires Lankford to provide security to facilities, which includes monitoring City cameras in the video room. [It is cheaper than hiring police officers for the same task and doesn't require the training or authority that police officers require. While I have not seen the document that the City sent to Roch, I suspect it reflects this monitoring activity, which is why he only sees security access. I am not aware that] GPD [can] access these cameras from the cars and [we do] not yet have a command center, so Lankford would be our eyes/ears on the cameras.The other reply from the supervising officer was also edited from its original, but you get the point.
[I think a meeting with Roch may help him understand things a little better. We have no conspiracy going on anything, but the PIRT process is not a very good way to address his concerns on this or the DNA issue. I do not expect him to agree with our position on things, but it may help reduce the constant barrage of PIRTs from him.]
Barrage or cascade?Did you read the last paragraph of the Chief's real response? I find it troubling that the Chief is of the opinion that it is for him to decide what is the best way for the city to "address" my "concerns." The records of the City are the people's records. They are to be provided when requested, no questions asked. That's the law. The Chief should know that. It's not for him or anybody else to determine whether or not providing public records is the best way to respond to a citizen who has asked for public records. If the City wants to try to manipulate a message or manage public perception, they are free to try do so, but not as a substitute for providing public records.
As for the "barrage," my original request for records documenting access to surveillance cameras was a single request—made eight months ago. It is only because the city's response was deficient that I had to make subsequent requests to learn how my request was handled, who saw it, who didn't and what types of records actually exist that should have been provided in response to my original request. This is not a barrage, it is a cascade—a bothersome result of the City's own pathetic actions.
As a result of those additional requests, I've identified at least nine types of records that should have been provided in response to my initial request — records I did not receive. I've made nine new requests for those records specifically. It's not my fault nor my pleasure that the City couldn't simply fill my request when I first asked.
[Updated for clarity]