Sunshine Q&A: When are police records public?

The short answer: Most of the time.

The Open Records Act is crafted in a way that if there’s any question about whether a document would be classified as public or not, it always leans toward transparency. The most common type of record requested by individuals from law enforcement agencies are police incident reports. These are always public, although just a few pieces of information may be redacted in order to protect a person’s identity (i.e. social security number, day/month of birth, mother’s maiden name, passwords…) In the most recent Sunshine Q&A, Hollie Manheimer points a reader to the Blue Book, a resource available at the Georgia First Amendment Foundation for law enforcement agencies. The booklets are useful to the general public, as well, as they spell out exactly what’s public and what’s not. Contact the First Amendment Foundation to request copies of the book, or download it here

Sunshine Q&A is a complimentary service of the Transparency Project of Georgia and the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, a federal 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  These opinions should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult your own attorney for individual legal advice. Submit your questions about open government here.

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