Public Records Act
What is the Public Records Act?
The California Legislature has ensured the fundamental and necessary right of every person in the State to access information concerning the conduct of the people's business. The California Public Records Act (PRA), Government Code Sections 6250 to 6270, with specific exemptions for certain records, requires government agencies to make public records available for inspection by the public and to provide copies upon request. The Redondo Beach Police Department has established the following guidelines to ensure that all persons understand and are afforded the opportunity to use their right to access public records.
What are public records?
Public records include any writing and communications related to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used or retained by the Redondo Beach Police Department regardless of its physical forms or characteristics. Records may include documents, transmitting by electronic mail, facsimile and other means of recording including words, pictures, sounds, symbols or any combination of these. This may include police incident information such as the time and circumstances of calls to the police; the name, city of residence, charges, hearing dates and bail amounts of an arrestee (except when disclosure would endanger an investigation.)
Why should I complete a Public Records Act Request form?
While a written request is not required, the Request for Reports/Records form will help the police department to determine if the records exist in city files. It will also allow you to determine if these records are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act or for other legal reasons that would prevent the documents/materials from being disclosed to the public.
How can I be sure to receive the records that I want?
The Redondo Beach Police Department prefers that all Public Records Act (PRA) requests are in writing so that we can identify the records you seek more accurately. Please include the following information in your request, so that we may respond to your request in a timely manner:
- Advise if you are requesting to inspect and/or obtain copies of public records under the PRA.
- Provide a clear and specific description of the requested information. Identify dates and times, report numbers, the names of persons involved and other specific information. The police department may ask you for additional information if the request is not specific enough to permit identification of the records you seek.
- Provide contact information (optional) so that the police department can obtain clarifying information if needed and send you a response or copies of the records.
Do I need to show identification to make a public records request from the police department?
- Although you are not required to provide identification, this will help the Redondo Beach Police Department serve you more promptly.
- Your identification will allow us to determine what may be released in accordance with the Public Records Act.
- The following types of photo identification are most useful to help you: (one of the following)
- State or Federal identification card
- Driver license
- Other identification accepted by the Redondo Beach Police Department depending on the type of report
Can I access any record held by the Police Department?
- No. Some records are exempt by law or the public interest in confidentiality outweighs the public interest in disclosure. (Government Code 6255).
- The PRA covers only records that already exist, and the police department is not required to create a record, list or compilation.
What police department records are exempt and may not be disclosed? What records may be withheld by the Police Department from release?
- Certain police incident reports, criminal histories and arrest records
- Information from a case that would endanger an investigation or the life of an investigator
- Data in police personnel files and misconduct complaints (Disclosure may be obtained using special procedures under Evidence Code 1043.)
- Home addresses
- Personnel, medical and similar files
- Records concerning agency litigation
- Preliminary drafts, notes and memos under certain conditions
- Attorney-client discussions
- Records not yet in existence
- Employees' private papers with certain exceptions
When may I inspect public records at the police department?
Public records are open to inspection during office hours, generally between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Advanced notice is not required to inspect public records; however, due to reduced staffing in the Records Unit, a review may be delayed depending on adequate staff to assist you while maintaining other essential services to the public. It is advisable that any person who wishes to inspect records should contact the Records Manager prior to a planned request to assure that the records and staff are available to avoid delays. A requester may have to schedule an appointment if the records must be found and reviewed, or if redaction of confidential information is necessary.
How soon will I receive a response to my request from the police department?
The Public Records Act, Government Code 6253, requires the prompt response to requests for access to records, usually within ten days of the request.
- Within ten days, the Redondo Beach Police Department will determine if the information is disclosable and notify the requester of the determination.
- In unusual circumstances, the ten day time limit may be extended up to an additional fourteen days by written notice to the requester. Unusual circumstances may include, but not be limited to:
- The request includes voluminous amounts of information.
- The records are held off-site.
- Consultation with other agencies must be done.
- The need to compile data or construct a computer report to extract data.
- If the Police Department determines that it can comply with the request, it will provide the records as promptly as possible.
May I obtain records in electronic format?
Yes, under certain conditions. The Police Department will may provide an electronic public record in an electronic format in which it retains its information or in one that is used by the department to create copies for its own use or provision to other agencies.
What are the fees to inspect records and for copies of records that I request?
- The fees for copies depend on the length of the document and the type of media. The cost for printed copies is $1.00 plus 10 cents per page.
- There is no charge to inspect records.