Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Whitley County police ordered to release information

The Whitley County Police Department violated the state Open Records Act by refusing the local newspaper's request for a copy of radio traffic and an incident report on a child injured by exploding fireworks, the attorney general's office has ruled.

The police cited both state law on the confidentiality of juvenile court records and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects certain "health information" in refusing the request by Corbin News Journal reporter Dean Manning. But the attorney general's ruling said neither trumped the Open Records Act.

"We find its arguments largely unpersuasive," the opinion said. "The radio traffic and report ... are not juvenile court records." In addition, HIPAA contains a provision that specifically authorizes the release of information "required by law."

The opinion dismissed another justification cited by the police – that the mother of the child injured wanted "no media attention."

"We are reluctant to defer to her wishes in light of the absence of any facts supporting her claim," the opinion said.