Friday, September 2, 2016

Louisville police correctly withheld documents that were federally exempt from disclosure

The Louisville Metro Police Department correctly denied an Open Records request about firearms trace summary data.

On Aug. 25, 2016, Attorney General Andy Beshear issued an opinion, In re: Insider Louisville/Louisville Metro Police Department, 16-ORD-177.

Insider Louisville staff writer Joke Sonka requested a copy of firearm trace summary data from the police department for the homicides from a firearm in 2015.

The department responded to the request in a timely manner and advised Sonka that those reports are prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It also said the reports were “anti-terrorism protective measures” within the meaning of KRS 61.878(1)(m)1.

The department also said that releasing those reports could threaten public safety because the sensitive information was only known to law enforcement.

On July 15, editor Sarah Kelley appealed the denial to Beshear’s office. She challenged the records being classified as “anti-terrorism protective measures” and how it would make the public vulnerable.

The police department responded with a detailed explanation. It stated that information generated by the National Tracking Center, which tracks firearms, was for exclusive use by law enforcement agencies.

It also noted that the department had to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with ATF not to share any tracking center information with third parties.

The police department argued disclosure was prohibited under federal law and therefore exempt under KRS 61.878(1)(k).

Beshear ruled the data requested was exempt under federal law and affirmed the denial of the request on those grounds.

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