DV Response Times (Boston Police Department)

Caitlin Russell filed this request with the Boston Police Department of Boston, MA.
Tracking # SPR17/1455
Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Caitlin Russell

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. c.66, §10, I hereby request the following records:

-Any documents or logs detailing the response time to domestic violence calls

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as we believe this request is in the public interest, as suggested but not stipulated by the recommendations of the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

I expect the request to be filled in an accessible format, including for screen readers, which provide text-to-speech for persons unable to read print. Files that are not accessible to screen readers include, for example, .pdf image files as well as physical documents.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Caitlin Russell

From: Media Relations

VIA Email Only

July 13, 2017

Dear Ms Russell,

The email is in response to your request for Public Records pursuant to the
Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. c.66, §10 received via email on
June 30, 2017, in which you requested "Any documents or logs detailing the
response time to domestic violence calls." It is noted that your request is
void of a specific time period for which you are seeking these records.
However, because a clarification on the time frame would have no bearing on
the substance of a response by the BPD, we will respond at this time.

The Boston Police Department is withholding the requested documents under
M.G.L. c. 4 § 7(26)(a). Exemption (a) applies to records that are
"specifically or by necessary implication exempted from disclosure by
statute." Documents that are in the possession of the Department are
specifically exempt from disclosure under two Massachusetts statutes.,
M.G.L. c. 41, § 97D and M.G.L. 41, § 98F.

M.G.L. c. 41, § 97D expressly states that "all reports of abuse perpetrated
by family or household members...Shall not be public reports and shall be
maintained by the police departments in a manner that shall assure their
confidentiality." Violation of this statute is punishable by fine and
imprisonment. Thus, this statute not wholly exempts the requested domestic
violence reports from disclosure, it prohibits their dissemination.

M.G.L. 41, § 98F also exempts from disclosure domestic violence related
entries in police logs. This statute directs police departments to exclude
domestic violence related entries from daily public police logs. This
statute expressly states "any information concerning responses to reports
to domestic violence shall not be a public record nor shall such entry be
disclosed to the public."

For the reasons stated above, the BPD is denying your request for records.

You may appeal this denial through the Supervisor of Records within 90
days. Any appeal shall be in writing and include a copy or your original
request and this response.

Should you have any questions please contact the Office of Media Relations
at 617-343-4520.
Best,

Lt Michael McCarthy
Director, Media Relations

From: Caitlin Russell

To whom it may concern,
I’m writing to appeal the rejection by the Boston Police Department of a public records request for “any documents or logs detailing the response time to domestic violence calls.” I would like to amend this original request to specify that the timeframe I’m requesting information on is Jan. 1, 2016 - Dec. 31, 2016, and Jan. 1, 2017 to the date on which this request is filled.
The first statutory exemption cited by the BPD in its rejection is M.G.L Chapter 41, Section 97D, which exempts from disclosure “All reports of rape and sexual assault or attempts to commit such offenses, all reports of abuse perpetrated by family or household members, as defined in section 1 of chapter 209A, and all communications between police officers and victims of such offenses or abuse shall not be public reports and shall be maintained by the police departments in a manner that shall assure their confidentiality.”
I’m not seeking personal information of victims or the accused, nor am I requesting specific information regarding the nature of any alleged offenses. Rather I am asking for the logs that document the time the call came in, and the time at which police responded to the scene. I believe this information is of vital interest to the public so that people can have some idea of how long it takes police to respond to domestic violence calls, and ensure that the calls are being responded to in a timely fashion. Information which if released would violate the statute cited above can be redacted to protect exempt information while releasing response times.
Also cited by the police in their rejection is M.G.L Chapter 41, Section 98F. This statute specifically prohibits the release of “any information concerning responses to reports of domestic violence, rape or sexual assault,” and requires that information related to such calls be kept in a log separate from the public police log. As with the aforementioned statute, the information contained in these separate logs documenting domestic violence calls can be redacted to maintain the privacy of both the alleged victims and the accused, while leaving information regarding the time it took police to respond to the call intact.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, almost one in three Massachusetts women have experienced some form of violence in intimate relationships. It’s in the public interest to release the information I’ve requested so that we can ensure that these incidents are being responded to with the urgency they deserve.
This concludes my appeal. Please contact me at caitlin@muckrock.com if you have any questions.
Best,
Caitlin Russell

From: Boston Police Department

Ms. Russell,

Pursuant to the order (attached below) by the the Public Records Division,
(SPR17/1455) I am writing this email to inform you that the BPD does not
have any other records in the Department's custody that do not contain
information falling within the claimed statutory exemptions.

Thank you,

Lt Det McCarthy
--
Lieutenant Detective Michael P. McCarthy
Director, Office of Media Relations
617-343-5412 (o)
617-593-4455 (c)

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