Hayes blocking Oskaloosa Independent’s request for information
by Dennis Sharkey
Oskaloosa City Attorney Mike Hayes is keeping the Independent from obtaining city records.
Last week the Independent filed a Kansas Open Records Act request for information pertaining to the hours that city police officers work.
The initial request was denied by the city. The reason cited a part of the statute that allows government entities to close personal records of employees.
The Independent resubmitted the request asking that any personal information including names be redacted.
The Independent on Friday received a letter from Hayes again denying the request. Hayes cited the same statute that the city provided and added that, “The city does not have a specific record for the information you have requested.”
Kansas Press Association Attorney Mike Merriam told the Independent that the purpose of the statute is to protect employees’ personal information.
“There’s nothing private about clocking in or out,” Merriam said.
Each week the Independent obtains records from law enforcement that provide the necessary information with private information redacted.
The Independent has filed a complaint with the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s office that is currently being examined.
Last month the Independent made a KORA request for all of the standard offense reports that were generated by the Oskaloosa Police Department in 2011 and through about mid April 2012. The Independent received five reports. Two were submitted in 2011 and three were submitted in 2012.
The Independent also made a KORA request with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department for all calls to the city of Oskaloosa by the Department.
The Independent has questioned the city council in the past about when city police officers work. Councilman John Norman told the Independent that the city did not want the public knowing when officers are on duty out of a fear that criminals will take notice of when officers are on duty.
Earlier this month some council members directed the Independent to Police Chief Rick Jones for questions. However, Jones will not return phone calls.
The Independent is currently reviewing options to move forward in obtaining the records.
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