Canton Police Department Complaints

Dave Maass filed this request with the City of Canton Police Department of Canton, GA .
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Dave Maass

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Act, I hereby request the following records:

Complaints received by the City of Canton regarding Canton Police Department officers between Jan. 1, 2009 and Sept. 7, 2015

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, 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 3 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Dave Maass

From: Susan Stanton

I have received your open record request for City of Canton police
complaints for the years 2009 through September 07, 2015.

The PD identified 75 such complaints. To produce the complaints (and I
assume you didn't want the investigations and results since they were not
requested) all 75 officers' files will need to be pulled, complaints
located and redacted if necessary, and scanned. Allowing at least 15
minutes per file for 75 files is a total of 18 or 19 hours; the estimated
cost will be a minimum of $321.00.

Understand that should a requester not pay the cost after agreeing to,
Georgia law allows that legal action can be taken and/or any future
requests may be required to be paid for in advance after the pending
charges are first paid.

Please let me know if you are prepared to pay this cost or have any
questions. Work will not begin on your request until your agreement to pay
such costs is received.

That being said, I would think that your personal information may be
necessary so that MuckRock is not held responsible and any further requests
through MuckRock be denied due to a possible failure to pay... I'll look
into that. Or, payment can be sent prior to the work being done, that would
resolve all the possible issues for MuckRock and the City.

Please let me know if you have any other ideas regarding this dilemma.

Thank you,
Susan
--
Susan C. Stanton
City Clerk of Canton
151 Elizabeth Street
Canton, GA 30114
770.704.1507

From: Dave Maass

Ms. Stanton -

Thank you for the thorough email. I was working with several people as part of a workshop at an educational panel in Atlanta. I would like to check with the participants regarding this.

Could I ask a few questions with the hopes of reducing the workload on your end and the cost on our end?

A few questions:

- Would the investigations and results be available through a public records request?
- Is there a singular document that shows the number of cases and the results?
- Would it be possible to inspect just one file as an example of what these look like?
- If we provided more information, such as a complainant or officers name, could we narrow it down?

Thanks!

Dave

From: Susan Stanton

Hello Dave,

1. Yes, 98% of info held by the City is considered public property and is
available through open record requests with some parameters, for instance,
the law does not require the City to create any document.. if it doesn't
exist, it doesn't exist. But nearly everything is part of the public domain.

2. The PD doesn't keep any one document that has the number of complaints
and the investigation results.

3. Yes, we can get you a file to see what it looks like.. it would be
redacted to
avoid some personal/private info that by law is confidential, as is true
for any record. The question is... which 1 of 75 do you want?

4. Yes, if we had a name or complaint number that would certainly narrow it
down.

Frankly Dave, the City would be able to help you get what you're looking
for, if we knew what you're looking for. A very broad open record request
is tough on the City and the requester.

Just let me know what you need...
Susan

P.S. You do know that it's free to make an open record request don't you?
I've learned that MuckRock charges $20. for 4 requests, I imagine for
anonymity purposes. Who is asking for a document (it can be anonymous) or
why they're asking for a document is totally irrelevant as to whether or
not the request will be filled. Public records are public records.
--
Susan C. Stanton
City Clerk of Canton
151 Elizabeth Street
Canton, GA 30114
770.704.1507

From: Dave Maass

Hi Susan,

I have to say that your office is one of the most helpful I've dealt with across the country regarding public records requests. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

I am aware that Muckrock does charge for public records request, but as I understand it, that cost helps to fund Muckrock's news articles as well as pay for the support services from Muckrock staff on public records requests (most agencies aren't as helpful as yours). I actually work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and we have a parternship with Muckrock, so these requests don't individually cost me anything. Muckrock is just a useful service for keeping track of requests and the request process.

As I mentioned before, I filed this request as part of a workshop on public records requests. During the presentation, I illustrated the process by taking ideas for requests from the audience and filing them right then and there. One individual was curious about Canton police complaints. I believe the individual could be more specific, but I started with a broad request. It's a bit difficult to track people down after the course, but if we can reach him, I will write back to narrow it down. Otherwise, I will narrow it down substantially myself, so that when we hold the workshop again next year, I can show the outcome of this year's requests.

To put it another way: filing this request was meant to be practical instruction about the process. I don't think there's need to rack up extensive work. As long as we can illustrate the impact.

I'll get back to you within the next few days on this.

Thanks for all your help.

Dave

From: Susan Stanton

Ok Dave, I'll wait to hear from you... glad you're doing this, education is
a good thing.

Susan
--
Susan C. Stanton
City Clerk of Canton
151 Elizabeth Street
Canton, GA 30114
770.704.1507

From: Dave Maass

Hi Susan,

Could you check for complaints for an Officer Mike Gavaia? If that returns any hits, we can limit just to that individual.

From: Susan Stanton

Hello MuckRock,

I've attached the 3 files on complaints against Officer Mark Gavala. There
were no redaction necessary...

Susan
--
Susan C. Stanton
City Clerk of Canton
151 Elizabeth Street
Canton, GA 30114
770.704.1507

From: Dave Maass

Thank you very much for all your help on this request. Please consider it completed at this time.

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