Lowell School Resource Officers

Waqas Mirza filed this request with the Lowell Police Department of Lowell, MA.
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From: Waqas Mirza

To Whom It May Concern:

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

A copy of all incident reports filed by Lowell Police Department's School Resource Officers (SROs).

You may restrict your search to records created from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015.

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 calendar days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Waqas Mirza

From: Lombard, Tom

We have forwarded your request to the Law Department you can contact them at LawOffice@lowellma.gov<mailto:LawOffice@lowellma.gov>

Sgt. Thomas Lombard
Keeper of the Records

From: Wellock, James

To Whom It May Concern:

The City of Lowell received your correspondence dated April 23, 2016 and interprets it as a request for public records under G.L. c.66, specifically, you request: "A copy of all incident reports filed by Lowell Police Department's School Resource Officers (SROs) . . . created from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015."

We are in the process of determining what materials are responsive to your request, but given the "magnitude or difficulty of the request," the City will not be able to provide these records within ten days of your request. See Globe Newspaper Co. v. Commissioner of Education, 439 Mass. 124, 132, n.12 (2003)(acknowledging that some requests may be too burdensome to complete within the ten day limit).

The City of Lowell Police Department does not categorize incident reports specifically as filed by School Resource Officers. Therefore, in order to complete your request, a search for all incident reports completed by any officer who served as an SRO during your requested 2-year time period of 1/1/14 to 12/31/15 would have to be gathered. Then, these records would need to be reviewed in order to exclude reports that are not SRO-role-created reports. The custodian of records could not estimate the amount of time this would take as it would include a great deal of records, more than 13 officers served as SROs in that time period and generated many reports over the course of 2 years. We can reasonably estimate it would take more than 10 hours to search, gather, and cull these records. The person completing this task would need to be at the sergeant level or above.

Due to the nature of the records you requested-- involving children-it is reasonable to assume these records will inherently contain protected information that will require the City to either withhold the record in total or redact the protected information on a case by case basis. See G. L. c. 66, § 10(a); Reinstein v. Police Commissioner of Boston, 378 Mass. 281, 289-90 (1979) (the statutory exemptions are not blanket in nature). The records will need to be reviewed in order to determine which are protected in whole and which must be redacted to remove protected information, such as juvenile information as protected by G.L. c 119, as an example. Because we do not yet have an estimate of the number of records that would be responsive to this request, and because we have not actually reviewed all the records, it is unknown how many records will be withheld and how many will require redaction. Having said that, the City estimates this could reasonably take, again, more than 10 hours. The persons completing this task would need to be at the Sergeant level or above.

The City anticipates that documents would be withheld from this request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law Exemption A, the statutory exemption, G. L. c. 4, § 7(26)(a), based on the fact that the records requested may contain CORI information (G. L. c. 6, § 172), juvenile delinquency information (to G. L. c. 119, § 60A), and/or exemption C, personally identifying information (G. L. c. 4, § 7(26)(c)), and exemption R, information gathered by the child advocate (G. L. c. 4, § 7 (26)(r)).

In addition to the costs for searching, reviewing, culling, and redacting or withholding, necessary to complete your request lawfully, the public records law stipulates that municipalities charge $1.00 per page. G.L. c. 66, section 10(a) "for preparing and mailing crime, incident or miscellaneous reports, one dollar per page."

The estimated cost of this request is broken down as follows:

· Minimum of 10 hours search and cull at sergeant fee of $43/hour

· Minimum of 10 hours review and redact at sergeant fee $43/hour

· Plus $1.00 per page and estimate 300 pages

Total cost estimate: $1,160.00.

Please note that this cost is an estimate and may change depending on the amount of time actually spent performing the work outlined above and the number of pages actually produced. The City will not begin compiling this request until we receive payment.

Your request further asks that the documents be provided in an "accessible format, including for screen readers, which would require text-to-speech for persons unable to read print." As you know, however, a records custodian is only obliged to provide access to existing files. A records custodian is not required to create new documents or to provide documents in new formats. See G. L. c. 4, § 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; the Public Records Law and Regulations only apply to existing records). Documents will be provided in the format in which they exist.

Please note that you may appeal this response by petition to the Supervisor of Public Records at the following address:

Public Records Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108

Please call or email if you have any questions or if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

James F. Wellock | Assistant City Solicitor
City of Lowell - Law Department
City Hall, 375 Merrimack Street, 3rd Floor | Lowell, MA 01852-5909
Tel: 978.674.4050 | Fax: 978.453.1510 | http://www.lowellma.gov<http://www.lowellma.gov/>
This message and the documents attached to it, if any, are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is PRIVILEGED and CONFIDENTIAL and/or may contain ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please delete all electronic copies of this message and its attachments, if any, and destroy any hard copies that you may have created and notify the Sender via email or telephone.
LOWELL Alive. Unique. Inspiring.

From: Waqas Mirza

Hi James,

Thank you for your response. I would like to modify my request to eliminate records which may contain protected information as well as narrow the request down to records submitted only by School Resource Officers (SROs).

Do the SROs carry out any analysis of patterns of school crime, specifically the Mandatory Reporteable Incidents identified in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Lowell Police Department and Lowell Public Schools?

Alternately, are there any suggestions you can make on how best to access information on SRO involvement in Lowell Public Schools that would either not involve protected information or reports filed outside their capacity as SROs?

Thank you for all your help with this!

Waqas.

From: Wellock, James

Hi Waqas,

Your modification of “eliminate records which may contain protected information,” would eliminate every incident report from your request because incident reports will have protected information in them. For example, School Resource Officer incident reports will have children’s names in them. Children’s names are protected.

The second modification is to limit your request to records submitted by SROs. As I previously stated, although perhaps not clearly, the records are not categorized by whether the submitter is an SRO or not. The only way to determine which records are SRO reports would be to make a list of the officers who were SROs during that time period, pull all their reports, and then one by one have a sergeant review the reports to determine which are completed while the officer was an SRO and which are not. That would, obviously, take time.

I’ll check to see if a data report or analysis has been completed and will get back to you.

Regards,

James F. Wellock | Assistant City Solicitor
City of Lowell - Law Department
City Hall, 375 Merrimack Street, 3rd Floor | Lowell, MA 01852-5909
Tel: 978.674.4050 | Fax: 978.453.1510 | http://www.lowellma.gov<http://www.lowellma.gov/>
This message and the documents attached to it, if any, are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is PRIVILEGED and CONFIDENTIAL and/or may contain ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please delete all electronic copies of this message and its attachments, if any, and destroy any hard copies that you may have created and notify the Sender via email or telephone.
LOWELL Alive. Unique. Inspiring.

From: Wellock, James

Waqas,

The best place to find data and analysis like that would be the latest annual report for the Lowell Police Department, which is not yet complete. However, the attached is a data report that was prepared for that report and will be included in this year’s annual report once published. It has the number of reported incidents by type of incident and by school.

When the report is complete, it will be published on the LPD website. Previous reports can also be found there.

Kind regards,

James F. Wellock | Assistant City Solicitor
City of Lowell - Law Department
City Hall, 375 Merrimack Street, 3rd Floor | Lowell, MA 01852-5909
Tel: 978.674.4050 | Fax: 978.453.1510 | http://www.lowellma.gov<http://www.lowellma.gov/>
This message and the documents attached to it, if any, are intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain information that is PRIVILEGED and CONFIDENTIAL and/or may contain ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please delete all electronic copies of this message and its attachments, if any, and destroy any hard copies that you may have created and notify the Sender via email or telephone.
LOWELL Alive. Unique. Inspiring.

From: Waqas Mirza

Hi James,

Thanks so much for your help with this request! I really appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Waqas Mirza

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