A&A: Blanket Denial of CPRA Requests from Law Enforcement Agency

Q: I recently filed several California Public Records Act requests with a local police department. Some were fulfilled, some were blanket denied. I was hoping I could get some advice on where to go next to help further my reporting into the matter.

A: For the record requests that were denied, you may want to consider writing a follow up letter to the agency asking why the records were denied and which exemptions to the CPRA, if any, it invoked to prevent disclosure of those documents.  Gov’t Code § 6253(c). You may also wish to remind the agency that they have a duty to assist you in making a focused and effective request that reasonably describe identifiable records.  Gov’t Code § 6253.1.  Perhaps refocusing your request or obtaining the documents with redactions would be more amenable to the agency.

Here is a sample PRA letter that has some good language that you may be able to include in your follow-up letter.

Bryan Cave LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries.  In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.  No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response.