What’s the matter with Olathe, Kansas?

A Kansas police department denied our request regarding social media surveillance, and we’re complaining about it.

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

As part of MuckRock’s social media surveillance survey, we’ve submitted over 200 requests to law enforcement agencies throughout the country. We’re asking for their contracts and policies on how officers may monitor citizen social media, and while many agencies have either provided those materials or stated they have nothing at all (we’ve got a full update coming next week), one department in Kansas rejected our full request under the state’s law enforcement exemptions.

The police department in Olathe, Kansas.

The agency rejected us based on two referenced exemptions

But the Kansas Open Records Act requires that agencies at least make public what can be seen, even if it’s included with otherwise exempted materials.

Because our request for clarification from the agency hasn’t yet been answered, we decided to challenge the rejection.

Unfortunately, Kansas is one of a few states that doesn’t offer any administrative appeal option. While some states require some mechanism internal to the agency to challenge denials and exemptions, potentially prompting review and overturn of the denial, the Sunflower State offers no such avenue.

However, the state Attorney General does offer a complaint process, which might yield some reprimand and further action, so we’ve taken that path.

The complaint process requires provision of each raw email between myself and the agency. Fortunately, because MuckRock keeps a copy of each communication that goes out and comes in, providing the AG with all of the back communications was pretty straightforward.

Now we wait.

This is my first go with the Kansas AG complaint process, so we’re curious to hear what yours have been like. Let us know on twitter or at info@muckrock.com.


Image via Olathe Police Department Facebook