Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

State Records Committee Appeal 06-05

BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Petitioner, vs.

SALT LAKE POLICE DEPARTMENT CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARD. Respondent.

DECISION AND ORDER

Case No. 06-05

By this appeal, Salt Lake Tribune seeks access to records of the Salt Lake City Police Department and Police Civilian Review Board. The State Records Committee, having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony on August 10, 2006, now issues the following Decision and Order.

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION

1. The Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") specifies that "all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either "private," "protected," or "controlled." See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302, -303 and -304. The Salt Lake Police Department denied the Salt Lake Tribune the records it seeks on the grounds that said Police Civilian Review Board files and reports are private.

2. The Committee is persuaded that the withheld records in question in cases 2005-0006, 2005-0040, and 2004-0058, are private in that they are records concerning current or former employees of a governmental entity, including performance evaluations and other materials reflecting the employees' performance. The Committee is persuaded that with the exception of Case 2005-027, the records are not required to be disclosed by Utah Code Annotated 62-2-301(3)(o) "records that would disclose information relating to formal charges or disciplinary actions against a past or present governmental entity employee", in that either the charges were not sustained by the entity or the appeal has not been completed as required by subsections (i) and (ii) of that section.

3. The Committee is persuaded that the records previously released in case 2005-2007 regarding the allegations that were sustained were properly released pursuant to Utah Code Annotated 62-2-301(3)(o) as "records that would disclose information relating to formal charges or disciplinary actions against a past or present governmental entity employee". As such records which must be released, the identifying information regarding the subject matter should not have been redacted relevant to the allegations that were sustained by the Department. The Committee is persuaded that the portions of the records referring to charges that were not sustained were properly classified as private records concerning current or former employees of a governmental entity, including performance evaluations and other materials reflecting the employees' performance.

4. However, the Committee is persuaded that the interest of the public in releasing said records is outweighed by the private interest See Utah Code Ann 63-2-403(11)(b). Disclosure of the information requested would "meet the purpose of the Police Civilian Review Board" to promote trust between the public and Police. The Committee is further persuaded there is a substantial public interest in disclosing said records.

5. The Committee is persuaded that the identifying information of witnesses and complainants is properly classified as "private" pursuant to Utah Code Ann 63-2-302(2)(d) as other records containing data on individuals the disclosure of which constitutes a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

6. The Salt Lake City Police Department has therefore properly classified the records in cases 2005-0006, 2005-0040, 2004-0058 and the allegations that were not sustained in case 2005-027 as "private" under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302(2)(a). Case No. 2005-027 is complete and has been sustained and the portion relating to sustained allegations is therefore a public record which must be disclosed under Utah Code Ann 63-2-301(3)(o). Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(11)(b), the committee has weighed the various interests and public policies pertinent to the classification and disclosure or nondisclosure, and finds that the public interest favoring access outweighs the interest favoring restriction of access relating to all of the requested records classified as private.

ORDER

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of the Salt Lake Tribune is granted in part. The Salt Lake Police Department shall release the records in cases 2005-0006, 2005-0040, 2004-058, and 2005-0027. The records shall be redacted to protect witness and complainant identifying information. The identifying information regarding the subject officers shall not be redacted.

RIGHT TO APPEAL

Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404. The court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.

PENALTY NOTICE

Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(14), the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the records committee and, if records are ordered to be produced, file:

(i) a notice of compliance with the records committee upon production of the records; or

(ii) a notice of intent to appeal.

If the government entity fails to file a notice of compliance or a notice of intent to appeal, the Records Committee may impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of continuing noncompliance.

Entered this 17th day of August, 2006. 

BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE

Patricia Smith-Mansfield, Chairperson
State Records Committee