Avoiding New Orleans Police Department Police Records Charges
I sent in a request for all missing/ unaccounted for guns within the NOPD. The records department came back with around 40 missing weapons and is trying to charge me $25 per police report related to the missing weapons. They are asking for over $700 for the records. Does anyone have any experience with getting around these charges? I’d appreciate any help!
Louisiana’s Public Records Act allows for fee waivers only when the documents will be used solely for a “public purpose.” That’s pretty limiting even in the best circumstances, and I don’t see the PD using their discretion to freely provide documents that are highly embarrassing to them.
Did they itemize these charges? Is the $25 per report for search time, review time, or reproduction costs, or some combination?
The city attorney handling the request didn’t provide the itemized charges, but referred me to the New Orleans city code which states, the fee for a copy of a official police offense report is $25.00 each. See City of New Orleans Code sec. 90-123(a)(2). I asked the custodian to consider this a public purpose, but if that doesn’t work, there’s no way for me to pay the $700.
Hmmm, if you want to get technical with the city attorney, you’re not asking for an offense report, so that fee doesn’t apply. You’re asking for an internal report, which isn’t covered in the fee schedule. But in that case, the attorney might say, “Fine, then it’s $50 per report.”
I’m afraid requesters don’t have much leverage in Louisiana (like most states). To make it worse, there’s no right to appeal. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I know what it’s like to have to abandon requests because of extortionate fees.
I appreciate the help. I read in the NOPD manual that every time a weapon is stolen/missing that the department has to send out a department-wide bulletin. Hopefully there will be more information there. Also, if I show up to the public records department, I’m allowed to view the reports for free. It’s a bit of a hassle, but doable.