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Open Records Complaints Filed Against 14 State And Local Agencies

Posted: December 19, 2014|Category: Open Government

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ACCESS/RI, of which the ACLU of Rhode Island is an active member, has filed 14 complaints citing a total of 53 violations of the state’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA) with the Rhode Island attorney general. The complaints stem from an audit released in September to determine whether state and municipal agencies were in compliance with amendments enacted by the General Assembly in 2012 to strengthen APRA.

The violations committed by the 14 cited state and municipal agencies ranged from failure to post written APRA procedures on official websites to records requests that were fulfilled more than 40 days late. “While our audit revealed lack of compliance by dozens of public bodies and municipalities, we focused our initial set of complaints on some of the most frequent and egregious violators,” said Linda Lotridge Levin, ACCESS/RI president. She continued, “We are asking the attorney general to take aggressive action in these cases to enforce the public’s right to know what their governments, both state and local, are doing.”

A breakdown of the complaints shows the New Shoreham Police Department with seven violations, the West Warwick School Department with six, and the Warren Police Department with five. Those with four violations are the East Greenwich School Department, the Newport School Department, the R.I. Office of the Auditor General, and the West Greenwich Police Department.

The Charlestown Police Department, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, the R.I. Department of Corrections, the Scituate Town Clerk and the Warren Town Clerk each have three violations. Those agencies cited with two violations are the Providence Police Department and the R.I. State Police.

A separate letter asks the attorney general to correct the Cumberland Police Department for their incorrect interpretation of APRA relating to access to police logs.

The audit was conducted by two organizations dedicated to transparency in government: ACCESS/RI, a coalition of local non-profit organizations and First Amendment advocates, and MuckRock, a collaborative news site and public records request platform. Levin indicated that the coalition was considering filing a second set of complaints against other agencies that were found by the audit to have violated APRA.

Copies of the complaint letters are available here.

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