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View Full Version : Newbies' GuideŽ For Doing a Public Records Act Request


oaklander
08-08-2008, 9:32 PM
This is a quick primer on doing a PRAR (public records act request) under California law. PRAR's are used to get copies of public records, and can be very useful.

PRAR's are very easy to do, and can be done via mail, via email, via phone call, or in person.

The code section that outlines PRAR's is here:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=06001-07000&file=6250-6270

But you don't need to read it, unless you are bored, or have a lot of time. Simply read this pocket guide. It is excellent:

http://www.thefirstamendment.org/capra.html

Now let me tell you how I do PRAR's:

1) I get the email address of the person who handles PRAR's for the particular agency I am dealing with. I get this either via google, or via telephone.

2) I also get the email address for their boss. So for example, if you are doing a PRAR to a police department, you might want to also copy the Chief of Police on your request. Make sure that the person you are emailing see's the CC (i.e., don't BCC).

3) I send the request in plain English, and I make sure that I am as specific as possible about the documents that I require and the time period that is covered.

4) I always use the recital that "this request is made pursuant to Government Code Sections 6250 - 6276.48," or similar words to that effect.

5) I wait 10 days for a response, and if I don't get one, I follow up with another email.

I have never failed to get the documents I seek, using this method.

Here's an example of what a successful PRAR looks like:

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=1424772&postcount=52

:)

RANGER295
08-08-2008, 9:41 PM
Thank you, I have been meaning to look into how to do this because there are some documents that I want to look at. You just saved me some time.

One question, is there any way that you can do this without your name being connected with it other than having a friend do it for you? This particular request is something that I do not the agency to know that I am the one that requested it yet. I just figured that I would have a friend make the request for me and I would reimburse him for any costs.

oaklander
08-08-2008, 9:43 PM
You can have a lawyer do it for you. I've offered to do these for free to Calgunners who are seeking 2A-related information.

If it's not 2A-related, it's going to run you a couple hundred dollars to have me do it.

:)

Thank you, I have been meaning to look into how to do this because there are some documents that I want to look at. You just saved me some time.

One question, is there any way that you can do this without your name being connected with it other than having a friend do it for you? This particular request is something that I do not the agency to know that I am the one that requested it yet. I just figured that I would have a friend make the request for me and I would reimburse him for any costs.

RANGER295
08-09-2008, 4:30 PM
My request was going to be the exact same request that you used in your example (CCW) for Stockton PD and San Joaquin Sherriff. I will probably hold off until next summer though. I am going back to school for a masters degree and will be gone for a few months so I will not have time to deal with applying for the CCW. If you help me with it when I do it (or even if you do not), I have no problem sharing the information with other CalGunners. I was thinking I would like to get this information before I apply so that I could tailor my application based on their policies, but I do not want them to know that it was me that made the request. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference.

Guntech
08-09-2008, 6:54 PM
Thanks for the info I'm probably going to end up doing a PRAR pretty soon just for the heck of it.

MudCamper
07-11-2011, 1:56 PM
Oak, I am planning on doing a PRAR with the Sonoma County Sheriff's office, the Santa Rosa Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol. It is in regard to a shooting involving both the sheriff's deputies and the CHP, where the SPD did an investigation in order to theoretically be less bias.

Reading the document you linked (http://www.thefirstamendment.org/capra.html) it states that "police incident reports" are exempt from disclosure. What I want is a copy of the SRPD's report on the incident, all reports the other agencies have on it, logs or recordings of all dispatch traffic, and copies of all the vehicle dash cam videos. Will they simply be able to deny my the request because it is a "police incident report"? How about the dash cam videos and dispatch recordings?

taperxz
07-11-2011, 2:15 PM
Oak, I am planning on doing a PRAR with the Sonoma County Sheriff's office, the Santa Rosa Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol. It is in regard to a shooting involving both the sheriff's deputies and the CHP, where the SPD did an investigation in order to theoretically be less bias.

Reading the document you linked (http://www.thefirstamendment.org/capra.html) it states that "police incident reports" are exempt from disclosure. What I want is a copy of the SRPD's report on the incident, all reports the other agencies have on it, logs or recordings of all dispatch traffic, and copies of all the vehicle dash cam videos. Will they simply be able to deny my the request because it is a "police incident report"? How about the dash cam videos and dispatch recordings?

Those may not be available if there is still an on going investigation.

MudCamper
07-11-2011, 2:24 PM
Those may not be available if there is still an on going investigation.

Assuming that's true, what about when the investigation is over? If they are able to deny PRAR requests, then who polices the police?