Denver Sheriff Hiding Open Records Policies

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why the Denver Sheriff is dragging its feet and trying to charge me $750 for the Denver Sheriff and Jail Procedures.

In my initial communications of the Open Records request, I asked for the fees to be waived because the Denver Sheriff did not post a fee structure as required in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-205 (6) (a).

A custodian may impose a fee in response to a request for the research and retrieval of public records ONLY if the custodian has, prior to the date of receiving the request, either posted on the custodian’s web site or otherwise published a written policy that specifies the applicable conditions concerning the research and retrieval of public records by the custodian, including the amount of any current fee.

My contention is the Denver Sheriff does not list any Open Records information on their website whatsoever and according to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-205 (6) (a), since there was no prior notice I should not have to pay any money for the Open Records request.

The Denver Sheriff does not list any CORA information on its website whatsoever.
The Denver Sheriff does not list any CORA information on its website whatsoever.

In the Denver Sheriff’s response, Denver Records Coordinator Mary Dulacki, told me “the Department of Safety has elected to follow recently enacted CORA policy when it comes to charges for staff time spent researching and retrieving records. That policy can be found on the denvergov.org website, for example at this link: http://www.denvergov.org/city_attorney/DenverCityAttorney/AboutUs/CORAPolicy/tabid/445357/Default.asp.”  See Mary Dulacki, Records Request – DSD Policies and procedures (sic).  In other words, Records Coordinator Mary Dulacki believes prior notice comes in the form of using a completely unrelated agencies Open Records policies that are neither stated or linked to on the Denver Sheriff’s website.

Denver Records Coordinator is not being completely honest with her explanation of the Open Records policy.  There is nothing for her to research or retrieve.  I asked for: 1.Denver Sheriff Department Orders; and
2. Denver Sheriff Department County Jail Division Procedure Manual.  If there needs to be any research into those policies then the Denver Sheriff is in more trouble than I originally thought.  Also, if they have to spend time retrieving the policies,I guess every employee of the Denver Sheriff has the policies and procedures memorized by heart.  That is very commendable, but highly unlikely.  I think both sets of policies and procedures are available in electronic format and Records Coordinator Mary Dulacki needs to decide what she wants to make public and what to keep private — that doesn’t seem to be part of the law, or what she quoted.  BUT that is the reason why she is trying to gouge me.  I have already documented that making Sheriff and Jail policies and procedures public is an emerging trend.  The Denver Sheriff isn’t exactly breaking new ground here.

Then to top it off, there is no information anywhere on the Denver Sheriff’s website about Open Records requests or who the custodian even is for Open Record requests (I noted this in my initial Open Records request).  The Denver Sheriff does not even link to the Denver City Attorney policy in an attempt to notify individuals the Denver Sheriff adopted the Denver City Attorney’s policy.  Ms. Dulacki, name is not even mentioned on the Denver City Attorney’s Open Record policy, like the statute implies it should.  Otherwise, how do you know who the Records Coordinator is in order to contact?  In fact, I cannot find any website on a Denver County or Denver City website that has Ms. Dulack’s name. Thus, there is no way a reasonable person could or would know the Denver City Attorney’s Open Records policy governs the Denver Sheriff or your office.  Silly me for not being able to read Mary Dulacki’s mind.  I did not know that the Denver City Attorney standardizes all policies for all City and County of Denver agencies.

I felt really stupid that I didn’t look on a completely unrelated website on a different organization’s website for the standard policy, until I stumbled upon a quasi City and Count of Denver Open Records policy directory on the official Denvergov.org. In case you want to visit it for yourself the address is: Denvergov.org/CityGovernment/PublicRecords/tabid/435563/Default.aspx.

Denver CORA Directory
Denver CORA Directory

It is more interesting to see who is left off the list rather than who is on it.  The Denver Sheriff is nowhere on the list.  The Denver Department of Safety is also missing in action.  Lastly, even the Denver City Attorney, who the Denver Sheriff cited to as the Open Records authority is nowhere on the list.  What a huge mess!!!  Maybe it is the Denver Sheriff who really is dysfunctional with their Open Records, and it is not me after all.

What is even more striking is the pattern and practice of Denver City and County agencies is to list their own Open Records policy, when it is listed.   I could not find a singular policy linked to by other organizations as Records Coordinator Mary Dulacki said was the case in her response to me.  I have taken screen shots of a few different agencies across the City and County of Denver to document that they each have their policy on their own website and do link to other agencies.

The Denver City and County Courts have their own CORA policies clearly laid out on their website.  There is no link to any other agency for Open Records policies.

Denver CORA City and County Courts
Denver CORA City and County Courts

The Denver Police Department has their own Open Record policies.  In fact, the Denver Police Department has a link on their home page to the Open Records policies.

Denver CORA Denver-Police Department Detailed
Denver CORA Denver-Police Department Detailed

Clicking on the Open Records link from the Denver Police Department’s homepage, reveals a very detailed policies for requesting documents.  Remember, this is in contrast to the Denver Sheriff who does not even mention Open Records anywhere on their website.

Denver CORA Denver Police Department
Denver CORA Denver Police Department

Furthermore, even the individual Denver City Council Members have Open Records policies listed underneath each of their bios.

Denver-CORA-City-Councilmember
Denver CORA City Councilmember

I take issue with Denver Records Coordinator Mary Dulacki telling me that Denver City Attorney’s Open Records policies should substitute for a lack of policies on the Denver Sheriff’s website.  Clearly, this is not the standard practice or procedure with Denver City or County agencies.

I am not sure why the Denver Sheriff is trying to hide the Denver Sheriff’s and Denver Jail’s procedures, but they are bringing out all the stops to try to keep it out of the public domain.

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