School-Based Arrest Data Request (Chicopee Police Department)

Erin Stewart filed this request with the Chicopee Police Department of Chicopee, MA.
Multi Request School-Based Arrest Data Request
Due June 2, 2022
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Erin Stewart

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

To whoever it may concern:

This letter constitutes a request pursuant to the Public Records Act, M. G. L.c.66, §10, for public records in the custody of your police department. Under the Criminal Justice Reform Act, school districts and law enforcement agencies must “specify the manner and division of responsibility for collecting and reporting the school-based arrests, citations and court referrals of students to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education” (DESE). DESE began collecting data on school-related arrests in the 2018-19 school year. In the 2019-20 school year, DESE has expanded that collection to include data on all referrals to law enforcement. DESE has defined these terms as follows, borrowing the same definitions used by the U.S. Department of Education since its 2009 Civil Rights Data Collection.

A school-related arrest “[r]efers to an arrest of a student for any activity conducted on school grounds, during off campus school activities (including while taking school transportation), or due to a referral by any school official. All school-related arrests are considered referrals to law enforcement.”

A referral to law enforcement “[i]s an action by which a student is reported to any law enforcement agency or official, including a school police unit, for an incident that occurs on school grounds, during school-related events, or while taking school transportation, regardless of whether official action is taken. Citations, tickets, court referrals, and school-related arrests are considered referrals to law enforcement.”

I request the following public records, as defined in M. G. L.c. 4, § 7 (twenty-sixth):

1. An extract of your records management system or database that includes each school-related arrest and each referral to law enforcement conducted during the 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced). Specifically, we request an extract of the database to include the following columns:
a. Date of arrest or referral to law enforcement
b. Time of arrest or referral to law enforcement
c. Charge (or charges)
d. Whether the individual(s) was arrested or referred to law enforcement
e. Sex of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
f. Age of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
g. Race of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
h. Ethnicity of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
i. Disability status of the individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
j. Whether the individual arrested or referred to law enforcement is a student at the school.
k. Name of arresting officer, if applicable, and
l. Badge number of the arresting officer or the officer that referred the youth to law enforcement, as applicable.

2. If such an extract of the database in question 1 is not possible, please provide police reports and school incident reports on each school-related arrest conducted during the 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced).

3. Please provide an unduplicated count of arrested students for each school year including 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced).

4. If such an extract of the database in question 1 is not possible, please provide police reports and school incident reports on each referral to law enforcement conducted during the 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced), per the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection for that year. For each referral to law enforcement, please include the school, demographic, and incident information described in DESE’s School Safety and Discipline Report Data Handbook v. 20.0.

5. Please also provide an unduplicated counts of referrals to law enforcement (as defined above) for each school year including 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced).

6. A copy of any active memorandum of agreement and/or standard operating procedures between your police department and local school districts regarding police placement or activity in schools.

7. A copy of any active standard operating procedures developed with the police department and/or other law enforcement agencies regarding police placement or activity in your corresponding school; and,
8. Any records instructing or informing police personnel of, or otherwise describing, data reporting requirements and procedures for complying with M. G. L.c. 71 § 37P(b).

As this request involves a matter of public interest and will not be used for any commercial purpose, we ask that all fees associated with this request be waived pursuant to 950 C.M.R. 32.07(2)(k). The purpose of this request is to determine whether your school district and police department are complying with their reporting obligations under the Criminal Justice Reform Act. “The public has an interest in knowing whether public servants are carrying out their duties in an efficient and law-abiding manner.”

It would be ill-advised to impose a fee for data that your police department may have failed to report in violation of statutory and regulatory duty. Moreover, as you know, municipalities with a population of over 20,000 may not assess a fee for the first 2 hours of time spent searching for, compiling, segregating, redacting and reproducing a requested record. Finally, pursuant to 950 C.M.R. 32.07(2)(i), a records access officer shall assess no fee greater than the lowest hourly rate of a person capable of compiling, segregating, redacting and reproducing a requested record. In the event that a charge is incurred for this request which you will not waive, please so indicate and include an itemization of estimated good faith costs.

Please provide public records to a requestor in an electronic format unless the record is not available in an electronic format. M. G. L.c 66, § 6A(d).

The Public Records Act requires that you comply with this request within ten (10) business days following receipt. If you believe that documents or data responsive to any request herein is not public record and thus not subject to disclosure, please set forth in writing the specific reasons for such assertion, including the specific exemption or exemptions that you believe apply. To the extent that you determine that records need to be redacted in order to be produced under any law protecting the privacy of named individuals, please do so rather than withholding them in their entirety.

If you have any questions about this request, or need additional time to respond, please contact me. Thank you in advance for your prompt response to this request.

Sincerely,
Erin Stewart
Citizens for Juvenile Justice
(617) 338-1050

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,

Erin Stewart

From: Chicopee Police Department

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Message ID: 94981e47-dca8-44c8-a7ba-0ab3169845ad

"Dear Ms. Stewart,

On Monday, May 16, 2022 the Chicopee Police Department received your request pursuant to Massachusetts Public records Law for the following records:

1. An extract of your records management system or database that includes each school-related arrest and each referral to law enforcement conducted during the 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced). Specifically, we request an extract of the database to include the following columns:
a. Date of arrest or referral to law enforcement
b. Time of arrest or referral to law enforcement
c. Charge (or charges)
d. Whether the individual(s) was arrested or referred to law enforcement
e. Sex of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
f. Age of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
g. Race of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
h. Ethnicity of individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
i. Disability status of the individual(s) arrested or referred to law enforcement
j. Whether the individual arrested or referred to law enforcement is a student at the school.
k. Name of arresting officer, if applicable, and
l. Badge number of the arresting officer or the officer that referred the youth to law enforcement, as applicable.

2. If such an extract of the database in question 1 is not possible, please provide police reports and school incident reports on each school-related arrest conducted during the 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced).

3. Please provide an unduplicated count of arrested students for each school year including 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced).

4. If such an extract of the database in question 1 is not possible, please provide police reports and school incident reports on each referral to law enforcement conducted during the 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced), per the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection for that year. For each referral to law enforcement, please include the school, demographic, and incident information described in DESE’s School Safety and Discipline Report Data Handbook v. 20.0.

5. Please also provide an unduplicated counts of referrals to law enforcement (as defined above) for each school year including 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school year (up until the day the records are produced).

6. A copy of any active memorandum of agreement and/or standard operating procedures between your police department and local school districts regarding police placement or activity in schools.

7. A copy of any active standard operating procedures developed with the police department and/or other law enforcement agencies regarding police placement or activity in your corresponding school; and,

8. Any records instructing or informing police personnel of, or otherwise describing, data reporting requirements and procedures for complying with M. G. L.c. 71 § 37P(b).

With respect to your request for Item 1, please be advised that our records management system cannot produce a report in the manner and with the fields that you have requested, therefore, this Department does not have possession, custody or control of the following records requested. The mandatory disclosure provision of the Public Records Law only applies to information that is in the custody of the Department at the time the request is received. As a result, there is no obligation for a Department to create a record for a requester to honor a request. See G.L. c. 4, section 7(26) (defining "public records" as materials which have already been "made or received" by a public entity); see also 32 Op. Att'y Gen. 157, 165 (May 18, 1977) (custodian is not obliged to create a record in response to a request for information); see also A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Division of Public Records, p. 8 (March 2020). As a result, the Department in unable to respond to your request.

With respect to your request for Items 2, 3, 4, & 5: Unfortunately, the Department requires additional time beyond the 10 business days allotted under the law in order to respond to this request. The magnitude or difficulty of the request unduly burdens the other responsibilities of the department. In particular, the quantity of records that the Department will have to review in order to fulfill this request will be in the tens of thousands. Our records management system does not allow or provide the option to search for students or school related functions. Each incident and arrest report for the last four and a half years would need to be reviewed and if found to be a requested record, then most likely redacted due to privacy concerns. As a result, the Department will produce the requested records within twenty five (25) days following the initial receipt of your request, which represents a reasonable timeframe under the law.

The Department is required to devote more than 2 hours of time to search for, compile, segregate, redact and/or reproduce the requested records; and the segregation or redaction of records is required by law or the fee has been approved by the Supervisor of Public Records. The lowest paid employee who has the necessary skill to complete the search and segregation is Records Access Officer whose hourly rate is $32.01. This individual is the lowest paid employee capable of completing the search and redaction because he is the only person with full access to all records and sufficient knowledge of the Public Records Laws to ensure information prohibited by statute is not released. The search and segregation costs have been calculated using the hourly rate of $25 per hour. In order to comply with your request, it will take approximately 2,000 hours of search and segregation time, based upon the following: The Chicopee Police Department produces approximately 1000 arrest reports per year and 5000 incident reports per year. As described above, there is no way to filter through our records management system for students or school related incidents and because some school functions occur off school property and outside of normal school hours, each report would need to be reviewed to ensure an accurate response is provided. Based on approximately 6,000 total reports per year which need to be reviewed, multiplied by 4 years of reports, this amounts to approximately 24,000 police reports to review. It would take approximately 5 minutes to review each report, multiplied times 24,000 reports equals 120,000 minutes. Divided by 60 minutes in an hour amounts to 2,000 hours of review. Multiplied by $25 per hour equals $50,000. Subtracting the first two hours which are free of charge: $49,950. This is a very modest estimate of the amount of time this extremely burdensome request would take to fulfill. It should also be noted that the 2,000 hours listed above far exceeds 25, 8 hour days and therefore would require the department to pay multiple employees to fulfill this request even after an approved extension.

With respect to your request for Items 6 & 7: Please see the attached file.

With respect to your request for Item 8: The Chicopee Police Department does not have possession, custody or control of the following records requested. The mandatory disclosure provision of the Public Records Law only applies to information that is in the custody of the Department at the time the request is received. As a result, there is no obligation for a Department to create a record for a requester to honor a request. See G.L. c. 4, section 7(26) (defining "public records" as materials which have already been "made or received" by a public entity); see also 32 Op. Att'y Gen. 157, 165 (May 18, 1977) (custodian is not obliged to create a record in response to a request for information); see also A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Division of Public Records, p. 8 (March 2020). As a result, the Department in unable to respond to your request.

Please be advised that pursuant to 950 CMR 32.00 and G.L. c. 66, section 10A(a) you have the right to appeal this decision to the Supervisor of Public Records within 90 calendar days. Such appeal shall be in writing, and shall include a copy of the letter by which the request was made and, if available, a copy of the letter by which the custodian responded. The Supervisor shall accept an appeal only from a person who had made his or her record request in writing. Pursuant to G.L. c. 66, section 10A(c), you also have the right to seek judicial review by commencing a civil action in the superior court.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully,

Officer Anouson Souvannasane

Chicopee Police Department

Bureau of Services

Records Access Officer

Office: 413-594-1745

Fax: 413-594-1725

Email: rao@chicopeepolice.com

Please be advised that the Massachusetts Secretary of State considers e-mail to be a public record, and therefore subject to public access under the Massachusetts Public Records Law,M.G.L. c. 66 § 10.

"This electronic message and any files attached hereto could contain confidential or privileged information from the Chicopee Police Department. This information is intended to be for the use of the individuals or entities to whom it is addressed only. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of this message.""

  • 2022_School_Resource__Officer_Memorandum_of_Understanding_Between_Chicopee_Public_Schools_and_Po

From: Erin Stewart

Thank you for your response dated 5/24/22. I left you a voicemail on 5/25/22 to try and talk through some of the potential issues.

First, we are happy to agree to a 25-business day extension for response. As calculated from the date of receipt of the request, I am confirming that the new deadline would be June 21, 2022.

Second, as to responses to requests 1 and 8, as you correctly state, “there is no obligation to create a record for a requestor.” However, furnishing a segregable portion of a public record is not considered creation of a new record. Furnishing an extract of existing data is also not considered creation of a new record, as such data exists at the time of the request and is segregable from nonresponsive and exempt data. This was recently explained in a 2020 case from the MA Supreme Judicial Court. That case states that compiling data from databases is not the creation of a new record.

Finally, I would like to discuss your fee request and my understanding of the capabilities of your records management software/searching capabilities. I am happy to speak to you about this request at (605)-405-6229. Hopefully we are able to work together for a responsive production.

I appreciate your time and cooperation.

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