|Submitted||Oct. 31, 2016|
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Pursuant to the state’s public records law, I am requesting access to and copies of records from your agency as part of our continuing coverage of gun trafficking. I have broken the request into three parts, each of which details the records that we are seeking. As expressed below, the date range for each part of this request is January 1, 2010 to the present:
1) Detailed information on stolen guns
It is our understanding that law enforcement agencies keep detailed records about firearms that were reported stolen by the citizens they serve. We are therefore requesting the following for each case of reported firearm theft in your jurisdiction:
-- The police report number and/or incident number for the firearm theft
-- The serial number, make, model, caliber, type and any other descriptive information for each firearm that was reported stolen
We would appreciate if this data was provided in a spreadsheet. If a spreadsheet is provided, please provide any record layout and/or code sheets.
The date range for this part is January 1, 2010 to the present.
2) Detailed information about crime guns
Second, it is our understanding that law enforcement agencies maintain detailed records about firearms that were used in crimes, recovered at crimes scenes or seized during investigations in their jurisdictions, including the make, model and serial number of each gun. We are therefore requesting the following:
-- The following records regarding firearms used in crimes in your agency’s jurisdiction, recovered at crime scenes or seized during investigations: the make, model, and serial number of each gun; the date of the crime; the police report number for the crime; the type of crime the firearm was used in; and the address where the crime was committed.
If your agency maintains a spreadsheet or database containing these records, we ask that you please provide that database. I would be grateful if this data was collated into a spreadsheet where each row represents one case, the same as part 1) “Detailed information about stolen guns.”
I would like to note that we are not at this time seeking copies of police reports or any other investigative records associated with these crimes; we are only seeking information about the firearms used and some general information about the crimes that is generally released to the public.
The date range for this part is also January 1, 2010 to the present.
3) Detailed information on lost, stolen or unaccounted for law enforcement guns
Finally, it is our understanding that law enforcement agencies maintain detailed records about firearms that, while under the control and/or in the possession of their employees, went missing, were lost or stolen, or are otherwise accounted for. Therefore we request the following:
-- Any and all records of department-issued firearms that were lost, stolen, went missing or are otherwise accounted for.
-- If your department does not issue firearms, then we ask for any and all records of firearms that were lost, stolen, went missing or otherwise became unaccounted for while under the control and/or in the possession of one of your employees.
The records should include but not be limited to the following:
• The make, model, serial number and caliber of each lost or stolen firearm
• The location and address where the firearm was stolen
• The date of the loss or theft.
• The date the lost or theft was reported
• Whether each lost or stolen firearm was recovered
• If the lost or stolen firearm was recovered, the date and location of the recovery
• A description of how the firearm was lost or stolen
• Whether negligence on the part of the employee is/was suspected in the loss or theft of the firearm
• Whether the employee in control of the firearm retired, was terminated or otherwise left the department, and if so, the date and circumstances of the employee’s departure and whether his or her gun was retrieved and/or recovered.
• Any other individual reports and findings on the individual lost or stolen firearms
The records should include but not be limited to databases, reports, memos, internal affairs investigations, emails or other correspondence, and/or any other records.
The date range for this part is also January 1, 2010 to the present.
Please label each record in a clear manner. As a news organization, we will be making information obtained from this request available to the general public and are not requesting it for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you informed me of the total charges before completing my request. We request that if you send an invoice, you make it out to The Trace.
I would prefer the requested information be sent via an e-mail attachment if available, or a mailed CD-ROM if not. If standard mail must be used, we ask that you send the request to the following address:
The Trace (at WeWork)
Attn: Brian Freskos
New York, NY 10013
Thank you in advance for your help with this request. I look forward to receiving your response. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me on my cell phone: (919) 522-6354
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 31, 2016. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.
Hello Brian: attached please find a response to your request for records from South Dakota.
Division of Emergency Services, and
Office of Communications
South Dakota Department of Public Safety
118 West Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
Thank you for looking into this, but I would like to argue parts 2 and 3.
As you're aware, the relevant portion of public records law that is cited exempts the disclosure of law enforcement records that "constitute a part of the examination, investigation, intelligence information, citizen complaints or inquiries, informant identification, or strategic or tactical information used in law enforcement training." It seems the only relevant portion to part 2 of my request seeking information about seized firearms would be "investigation" information. However, the department can still release information about weapons that are no longer part of an ongoing case, i.e., the case has been adjudicated and closed. Therefore, I respectfully request that the department release the serial numbers, makes, models and other descriptive information about firearms that were seized as evidence but are no longer part of an active investigation.
As for part 3, the department is denying my request as both non-releasable law enforcement records and personnel records. If this one case is no longer under investigation, then the law enforcement exemption doesn't apply. As for the personnel exemption, all identifiable information about the law enforcement officer can be redacted to comply with this portion of the law. We are not interested in obtaining information about the individual law enforcement officer involved, just the firearm that was lost or stolen.
Dear Mr. Freskos:
We have received and considered your position on our denial of portions 2 and 3 of your original request. However, SDCL 1-27-1.5 (5) does not differentiate between case files which have completed the court process and those that have not. Obviously, sensitive material resides in those files, regardless of the outcome of any possible criminal prosecution or civil case. And while we appreciate that you are not looking for specific personal information from our personnel files, those records are also protected and the information that you are requesting is not an exception in SDCL 1-27-1.5 (7).