SD Narcotics Task Force T-Shirt

Dave Maass filed this request with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department of San Diego County, CA.
Due Jan. 2, 2016
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Dave Maass

To Whom It May Concern:

In October 2014, local news organizations reported on how San Diego narcotics officers were seen wearing a T-shirt bearing the following phrase:

Marijuana Eradication San Diego, CA.
Fuck the growers… Marijuana is still illegal.

(Source: http://www.10news.com/news/investigations/narcotics-agent-investigated-over-vulgar-t-shirt-102314)

Pursuant to the California Public Records Act (California Government Code §§ 6250), I hereby request the following records:

All documents associated with this T-shirt, including but not limited to purchase receipts, emails and memos related to the shirt, design sketches, and records related to administrative action taken in response to the shirt.

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 10 calendar days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Dave Maass

From: Toyen, Sanford

Dear Mr. Maass:

The Sheriff's Department is in receipt of your email of November 6, 2015, seeking records pursuant to the California Public Records Act.

Pursuant to Government Code section 6253(c)(3), the Sheriff's Department is extending the response date of your request by 14 days. The Sheriff's Department will respond on or before November 30, 2015.

Sincerely,

WILLIAM D. GORE, Sheriff

By: Sanford A. Toyen, Legal Advisor

Office of the Sheriff, Legal Affairs Unit

Tel: (858) 974-2255

Dir: (858) 974-2258

Fax: (858) 974-2262

"Keeping the Peace Since 1850"

From: Toyen, Sanford

Dear Mr. Maass:

The Sheriff's Department is in receipt of your email of November 6, 2015, seeking records pursuant to the California Public Records Act. On November 16, 2015, pursuant to Government Code section 6253(c)(3), the Sheriff's Department extending the response date of your request by 14 days. The Sheriff's Department now responds as follows.

Your request seeks "all documents associated with this T-Shirt, including but not limited to purchase receipts, emails, and memos related to the shirt, design sketches, and records related to the administrative action taken in response to the shirt."

It should be noted that your request seeks "emails", which would include all 4100+ employees of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. In response to your request, the Sheriff's Department ran a "snapshot" query on emails that exist presently in the system, using phrases from the t-shirt as search terms. A broader search of "historical snapshots" of the Sheriff's Department's email system would require significant information technology resources to rebuild databases, and as the requestor, you would bear the costs of such data compilation, extraction, or programming. (Government Code section 6253.9(b)(2)).

With respect to your request for "records related to the administrative action taken in response to the shirt", your request seeks records that, to the extent such records exist, are prohibited from public disclosure pursuant to Penal Code section 832.5, and are therefore exempt under Government Code section 6254(k); City of Hemet v. Superior Court (1995) 37 Cal. App. 4th 1415.

With respect to the remainder of your request, the only public records in the possession of the Sheriff's Department are emails with attachments that represent compiled (without comment) newspaper articles that include news articles about the incident. If you wish to receive copies of these emails, please advise.

Sincerely,

WILLIAM D. GORE, Sheriff

By: Sanford A. Toyen, Legal Advisor

Office of the Sheriff, Legal Affairs Unit

"Keeping the Peace Since 1850"

From: Dave Maass

Mr. Toyen,

Thank you for the response.

I appreciate that you interpreted the request so broadly as to apply to all 4,100 employees of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. It seems that using such a haystack approach was destined to miss the needle. Allow me to make some suggestions to help you provide me the records necessary for compliance with the California Public Records Act.

#1 Conduct more thorough searches of the emails of the limited number of sheriff staff who work on the Narcotics Task Force.

#2 Directly ask the Narcotics Task Force/marijuana eradication team to forward you the relevant emails.

#3 Directly ask the deputy wearing the shirt where he got the shirt, how he paid for it, how many he made, and to provide you with the relevant documentation. If he directs you to another person, then pose those questions to that person.

#4 Ask Det. Steve Reed, who the San Diego Union-Tribune says is known as "The Mole" by his fellow marijuana eradication officers.

I would like to further note that the California Public Records Act defines "public records" as:

"any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics."

Under this definition, the T-shirt itself is a public record since it contains information related to the conduct of the public's business, i.e. marijuana eradication by government agencies in San Diego. Pursuant to CPRA, you should be able to provide me with a copy of the shirt.

Thank you.

Dave Maass

From: Toyen, Sanford

Dear Mr. Maass:

Thank you for your reply on December 4.

Addressing your last point first, the Sheriff's Department does not have in its possession a copy of the shirt.

The email search that we performed was not "destined to miss the needle". It was intended to provide the most comprehensive search of Sheriff's Department employee emails without resorting to data compilation, extraction, or programming, which would require you, the requestor, to bear the costs (Government Code section 6252.9(b)(2)).

With respect to your suggestion to contact certain persons and ask them to turn over their emails, please understand that the search we performed encompassed any emails that would have been yielded from your suggestion. In other words, we have already performed a search of the email accounts assigned to the current SDSO employees whom you have described. We decline to now conduct a less thorough second search.

Sincerely,

WILLIAM D. GORE, Sheriff

By: Sanford A. Toyen, Legal Advisor
Office of the Sheriff, Legal Affairs Unit
Tel: (858) 974-2255
Dir: (858) 974-2258
Fax: (858) 974-2262

"Keeping the Peace Since 1850"

From: Dave Maass

Mr. Toyen,

I will address you responses point-by-point.

#1 "[T]he Sheriff's Department does not have in its possession a copy of the shirt."

Response: The T-shirt was seen on television being worn by a Narcotics Task Force officer. This means it is in the possession of the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

#2 The email search that we performed was not "destined to miss the needle". It was intended to provide the most comprehensive search of Sheriff's Department employee emails without resorting to data compilation, extraction, or programming, which would require you, the requestor, to bear the costs (Government Code section 6252.9(b)(2)).

Response: System-wide searches related to a few keywords are a flawed method of identifying responsive records. For example, a purchase made on a T-shirt printing website may occur through the website itself, and the email generated receipt may not include those keywords. Your prior email indicated that it would be too broad a request to search across 4,100 employees. That is why I narrowed it to a few dozen or perhaps even the single employee captured wearing the shirt.

Furthermore, such an email search would not be comprehensive. The Sheriff's department also engages in email exchanges over alternative email systems. For example, each TACIDS device used by the sheriff's department is associated with a unique Gmail account, which allows for communication between the devices. I am not suggesting that a TACIDS device was used to conduct this purchase; I am simply saying that there may be other email accounts that would not be covered by your "snapshot" search.

#3 "With respect to your suggestion to contact certain persons and ask them to turn over their emails, please understand that the search we performed encompassed any emails that would have been yielded from your suggestion. In other words, we have already performed a search of the email accounts assigned to the current SDSO employees whom you have described. We decline to now conduct a less thorough second search."

Response: I remind you that my request was not limited to email, but "All documents associated with this T-shirt, including but not limited to purchase receipts, emails and memos related to the shirt, design sketches, and records related to administrative action taken in response to the shirt." You have so far only addressed emails and administrative records. You have not explained how you conducted a search of paper records or other documents that were not transmitted via email.

The simplest, most efficient way to process this record request would be to go the person or team most likely to have responsive records and simply ask them to turn them over any responsive records. You have yet to explain why you have not done so.

Sincerely,

Dave Maass

From: Toyen, Sanford

Mr. Maass-

The simplest, most efficient way to process this record request would be to go the person or team most likely to have responsive records and simply ask them to turn them over any responsive records. You have yet to explain why you have not done s.

I think that was a fair point. We have done as you suggested. Some of the Sheriff's employees had photos that either they took, or downloaded from media accounts. I'm not sure they will be of any interest to you, but this represents what the Sheriff's Department has, pertaining to the incident.

Sincerely,

WILLIAM D. GORE, Sheriff

By: Sanford A. Toyen, Legal Advisor
Office of the Sheriff, Legal Affairs Unit
Tel: (858) 974-2255
Dir: (858) 974-2258
Fax: (858) 974-2262

"Keeping the Peace Since 1850"

From: Dave Maass

Thank you, that is helpful. Could you please identify the individual in the shirt. He's speaking to the press on camera, so there shouldn't be any confidentiality issues.

Also, what does that individual say regarding how the shirt was purchased?

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