New Bedford Animal Control/Forever Paws documents

Evan Anderson filed this request with the New Bedford Police Department of New Bedford, MA.
Tracking #

SPR18-934

SPR 18/934

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Evan Anderson

To Whom It May Concern:

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

A copy of the city contract between Animal Control and Forever Paws.

All animal control intake and disposal records from 5/21/2016 through 5/21/2018.

All records related to stray animals captured by Animal Control since 11/1/2017 (only if distinct from the records requested above).

All emails between Lieutenant Nathaniel Rodriguez and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 4/1/2018 through 5/21/2018.

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,

Evan Anderson

From: New Bedford Police Department

Mr. Anderson,

I am in receipt of your May 20, 2018 request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law which was received by the Chief of the New Bedford Police Department on May 21, 2018. In the email to the Chief, you requested the following documents:

A copy of the city contract between Animal Control and Forever Paws.

All animal control intake and disposal records from 5/21/2016 through 5/21/2018.

All records related to stray animals captured by Animal Control since 11/1/2017 (only if distinct from the records requested above).

All emails between Lieutenant Nathaniel Rodriguez and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 4/1/2018 through 5/21/2018.

The City of New Bedford does not have the requested records saved electronically. The City has 4 emails between Lieutenant Nathaniel Rodriquez and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 4/1/2018 through 5/21/18 saved electronically. The City is entitled to payment for the costs of researching and copying in excess of two hours. A good faith estimate is outlined below. The actual costs might vary from the estimate. Kindly forward a check made payable to the City of New Bedford to my attention in the amount of $303.70 for those charges. The breakdown is as follows:

768 pages x .05 per page = $ 38.40

2 hours for least paid person

capable of performing duties. = $ 0.00

14 hours for least paid person

capable of performing duties

at $18.95/hr. = $265.30

TOTAL COST $303.70

After payment is received we will commence the search for responsive documents and will provide such documents to you within twenty-five business days of the date of your request, excluding the time between this letter and receipt of your payment.

You have the right to appeal this determination to the Supervisor of Records under 950 CMR 32.081(1) within 90 calendar days of this response. Any appeal shall be in writing and include a copy of your original request and this letter. By law, the Supervisor is required to respond within 10 business days of receipt of your appeal. You may also seek judicial review of an unfavorable response by commencing a civil action in the superior court under G.L. c. 66, section 10A(c).

From: Evan Anderson

Hi there,

In light of the cost estimate, I'd like to narrow my request to the four emails between Lieutenant Nathaniel Rodriguez and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 4/1/2018 through 5/21/2018.

Thanks,
Evan

From: Evan Anderson

Hi again,

My apologies for the second email. I would like to add another item to the request. My request is now the following:

- All emails between Lieutenant Nathaniel Rodriguez and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 4/1/2018 through 5/21/2018.
- All emails between ACO Brandon George and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 1/1/2018 through the date this request is processed.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Evan

From: Evan Anderson

Hello,

Just checking in on this.

Thank you,
Evan

From: Evan Anderson

To Whom it May Concern:

This is an appeal to the constructive denial of my request, copied below. I submitted a request originally on 5/20, and received a response on 5/31. As a result of the response, I revised and resubmitted my request on 6/5. I have not heard from the department since, and the 10 business day deadline has passed. Please instruct them to acknowledge and/or fulfill my request.

Sincerely,
Evan

From: New Bedford Police Department

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: New Bedford Police Department

Good Morning,
This office has received the petition of the requestor, Evan Anderson, appealing the response of the New Bedford Police Department.
Please find attached the case file associated with this appeal. Should you have any questions, Staff Attorney Lori Sullivan has been assigned to this appeal.
Thank you,
Fredson Sossavi
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Public Records Division
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108
617-727-2832

From: New Bedford Police Department

Hi Evan here is the request for Lt Nathaniel

The request for Brandon will be over today or tomorrow

Thank You

From: New Bedford Police Department

Dear Mr. Anderson,

This is the second and final piece of the City's response to your June 5, 2018 request for public records pursuant to the provisions of M.G.L. c.66, § 10 (the "Public Records Law"). In your June 5, 2018, email you relayed the following: "My apologies for the second email. I would like to add another item to the request. My request is now the following:

- All emails between Lieutenant Nathaniel Rodriguez and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 4/1/2018 through 5/21/2018.
- All emails between ACO Brandon George and ACO Emanuel Maciel from 1/1/2018 through the date this request is processed.
Yesterday, the Police Department emailed you 14 pages of responsive records to the first category of your request. With respect to the second category of your request for emails, copies of the Department's responsive records, emails between Animal Control Officer Brandon George and Animal Control Officer Emanual Maciel, are attached hereto (74 pages).

The Department has redacted the names, addresses and contact phone numbers of voluntary witnesses from this record pursuant to G.L. c. 4, § 7 (26)(f), which permits records custodians to withhold "investigatory materials necessarily compiled out of the public view by law enforcement or other investigatory officials the disclosure of which materials would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest." The Department routinely encourages the public to report cases of animal abuse and cruelty directly to the Animal Control Office and indicates that such reporting will be kept confidential. The Department website on reporting animal abuse states, "Your complaint will be kept confidential." The Department is concerned that releasing the names and addresses and contact phone numbers of voluntary witnesses would create a grave risk of directly or indirectly identifying the voluntary witnesses who have reached out to the department to report animal abuse or other serious crimes. "Police departments must depend on reports from private citizens concerning possible illegal activity and the collection of such communications is an important and entirely legitimate law enforcement function." Bougas v. Chief of Police of Lexington, 371 Mass 59, 63 (1976). The redaction of witness names, addresses and contact phone numbers is designed to allow the Department to continue to provide assurance of confidentiality to private citizens so that they will speak openly about matters under investigation and is not limited to matters of animal abuse. Id., at 62 and Globe Newspaper Company v. Boston Retirement Board, 388 Mass 427 (1983).

The Department has also redacted from this record employees' reasons for requesting permission for use of use sick, personal, or vacation time pursuant to G.L. c. 4, § 7 (26)(c), which permits the withholding of "materials or data relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." "Exemption (c) requires a balancing test: where the public interest in obtaining the requested information substantially outweighs the seriousness of any invasion of privacy, the private interest in preventing disclosure must yield." People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Dep't of Agric. Res., 477 Mass. 280, 291-92, 76 N.E.3d 227, 238 (2017). The balancing test includes consideration of three factors: "(1) whether disclosure would result in personal embarrassment to an individual of normal sensibilities; (2) whether the materials sought contain intimate details of a highly personal nature; and (3) whether the same information is available from other sources." Other "case-specific relevant factors" may also be considered. Here, the employee's explanation to his supervisor regarding his use of this earned time is personal information not available elsewhere, contains details of a highly personal nature and is the type of information that would be embarrassing for the employee if disclosed publicly. Because we have determined that the public's interest in obtaining the employee's explanation to his supervisor for the use of this earned time does not substantially outweigh the seriousness of the invasion of privacy to the employee, the redaction of this information is appropriate.

The Department has also redacted from this record reporting party's name, address and telephone number when contacting the Animal Control Office for assistance pursuant to G.L. c. 4, § 7 (26)(c), which permits the withholding of "materials or data relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." "Exemption (c) requires a balancing test: where the public interest in obtaining the requested information substantially outweighs the seriousness of any invasion of privacy, the private interest in preventing disclosure must yield." People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Dep't of Agric. Res., 477 Mass. 280, 291-92, 76 N.E.3d 227, 238 (2017). The balancing test includes consideration of three factors: "(1) whether disclosure would result in personal embarrassment to an individual of normal sensibilities; (2) whether the materials sought contain intimate details of a highly personal nature; and (3) whether the same information is available from other sources." Other "case-specific relevant factors" may also be considered. Here, a reporting party's name, address and telephone number is personal information not available elsewhere, contains details of a highly personal nature and is the type of information that would be embarrassing for the employee if disclosed publicly. Because we have determined that the public's interest in obtaining the reporting party's name, address and telephone number does not substantially outweigh the seriousness of the invasion of privacy to the individual, the redaction of this information is appropriate.

You have the right to appeal this determination to the Supervisor of Records under 950 CMR 32.081(1) within 90 calendar days of this response. Any appeal shall be in writing and include a copy of your original request and this letter. By law, the Supervisor is required to respond within 10 business days of receipt of your appeal. You may also seek judicial review of an unfavorable response by commencing a civil action in the superior court under G.L. c. 66, section 10A(c).

Sincerely,

Lisa

Lisa A. Presby
Legal Services Coordinator
City of New Bedford
Office of the City Solicitor
133 William Street - Room 203
New Bedford, MA 02740-6163
Tel. (508) 979-1460
Fax (508) 979-1515

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