Q: I was at lunch at home from work when police officers swarmed my house. They claimed a 911 call came in reporting domestic abuse at my address and a female was screaming. There was no issue at my house, but I would like to know who made this call. Was it a case of a wrong address, or was someone “pranking” me? Do I have any right to this information?
A: I have been reading in the news about “swatting,” whereby prank calls are made to local police reporting a serious crime at some locale, which sometimes leads to SWAT teams responding to what turns out to be a non-incident. You might want to submit a written request to the police agency that took this call and dispatched officers to your home for any records related to the incident.
While I am not as familiar with Florida’s public records act as I am with California’s, a quick review of the law indicates that police records are generally subject to public disclosure unless some exemption applies. Section 119.105 states that “Police records are public records except as otherwise made exempt or confidential.” In responding to your request, it seems the agency should either disclose the records to you, or if it claims the records are exempt, it should cite the specific exemption and how it applies.
You can peruse Florida’s public records act here, to better understand how it works. You can find a sample request letter on the FAC’s website here. Of course, you will want to replace references to California’s Public Records Act with references to Florida’s act.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner 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.