Records reveal that LRPD has subscribed to and utilized a cloud based document storage system for the past 17 years - A system that could be used to easily provide FOI responses to citizens
Russ Racop - Snarky Media Group
For the past 17 years LRPD has subscribed to and utilized a cloud based document storage system.
This cloud based document system could have and can be used to share records with the public, records like those we frequently request from LRPD under the Arkansas Freedom of Freedom of Information Act.
For some time now we at Snarky Media Group (Ean Lee Bordeaux and myself) along with attorney and fellow blogger Matt Campbell have led the battle to force the city of Little Rock and the Little Rock Police Department to comply with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act 9"AFOIA") and provide requested public records.
More often than not they do not want to comply and we have to file lawsuits to force them to provide the requested public records.
For example, in 2018 we had to sue the city and LRPD to force them to comply with the AFOIA and provide photographs of all uniformed and plain clothed non under cover cops.
That same year we had to sue them again to force them to comply with the AFOIA and provide documents maintained by LRPD to record and track AFOIA requests submitted to LRPD and documents regarding cops asking for and receiving permission to post photos on their social media pages in uniform or showing them working as a LRPD cop (at that time they had a police that prohibited such unless permission had been obtained from the LRPD chief).
As expected, the courts ruled that these were public records and ordered the city and LRPD to provide them to us.
Back in 2018, LRPD decided to charge for providing responses to FOI requests like the one we made.
As mentioned in the Arkansas Times article, Matt Campbell was getting the same push back from the city and LRPD that we were.
Campbell found that LRPD was actually paying less that $.50 for the CD's they were charging $3.00 to citizens. A clear violation of the AFOIA.
Here's what he published on his Blue Hog Report:
Well, LRPD has never made us pay for any of the CD's or DVD's they used to provide requested public records to us.
LRPD simply wanted to erect a barrier to keep public records of our hands. Public records that exposed how corrupt and inept LRPD was and continues to be.
The next barrier shortly the city and LRPD attempted to erect was this one:
Pulaski County and many state agencies have provided responses to FOI requests by uploaded records and audio/video files to a cloud based system (Dropbox or SharePoint) prior to 2018.
Attempts to get the city of Little Rock and LRPD to follow suit has proved fruitless.
However the law is clear (Pulaski County Special School District v. Delaney, 2019 Ark. App. 210), if an individual makes a request for records under the AFOIA and asks for them to be provided in electronic format (PDF, MS Word or Excel, etc.) and emailed to the requestor, and the public agency has the capability to scan the records and has email, they must provide the records in that manner.
So we were surprised to have obtained records that revealed that LRPD has had the capability to upload records to the cloud and provide them at no charge to individuals for the last 17 years.
This information will no doubt be used by Campbell in a pending lawsuit against the city of LR/LRPD.
While we are on the topic of FOI lawsuits involving the city of LR/LRPD, we must point out another one that opened up access to public records. That case is Ben Motal v. City of Little Rock, 2020 Ark. App. 308.
LRPD like every other law enforcement agency in the state can charge $10.00 for a copy of an accident report Ark. Code Ann. 27-53-210).
The Motal case resulted in the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that an individual can copy public records, even accident reports, at no cost by using their own devices.
Another recent action that bolsters free access to public records in Arkansas is an update to the AFOIA that occurred this year.
Act 310 amended the AFOIA to allow a citizen to inspect and copy a public record, thorough image capture, including still and moving photography and video and digital recording.
The legislature has made it crystal clear that a citizen can use their own devices or equipment to copy public records.
Any agency that denies a citizen that right does so at its on risk for civil and criminal penalties.
The PowerDMS system can easily be used by LRPD to share documents.
Click here for details.
The PowerDMS system can easily be used by LRPD to share video files.
Click here for details.
By fully utilizing the system that LRPD has utilized the last 17 years, they can easily comply with the AFOIA and provide records in electronic format and email links to the requestor for viewing and downloading.
LRPD says they can't provide videos directly to citizens making FOI requests via the cloud or links. Records reveal that they have been doing exactly that to criminal defense attorneys.
LRPD uses the WatchGuard system for MVR - mobile video recorder- in vehicles and for body cameras.
Anyone can download the WatchGuard player from their website or use VLC media player to view videos created with that system.