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O I. P E R A T I
P O L I C E
O N A L
D E P A R T M E N T
Title: PUBLIC ACCESS TO DEPARTMENT INFORMATION Effective Date: JUNE 1, 2005 Rescinds: 200-9 OCT. 2001
PURPOSE The purpose of this procedure is to establish guidelines for release and dissemination of public information to print and broadcast news media.
STATEMENT OF POLICY The Lansing Police Department (LPD), recognizes the public’s right to have access to public records and the news media’s right to report on matters of public interest. Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) governs access to/and release of public records and information. It is the policy of the LPD to maintain a cooperative approach to providing information on matters of public concern to the media and general public. Information will be released to the media without partiality. Employees of the LPD shall not delay the release of information to favor any particular news representative.
DEFINITIONS A. Public Information: Information that may be of interest to the general public regarding policy, procedures, or events involving the Department or other newsworthy information that is not legally protected, which does not unduly interfere with the mission of the Department, does not infringe upon the rights of a defendant, or compromise the legitimate safety and privacy interests of officers, victims, witnesses, others, or ongoing investigations. News Media Representatives: Those individuals who are directly employed by agencies of the electronic or print media such as radio, television, and newspaper. Freelance workers in this field are to be regarded as other members of the general public unless otherwise designated by the Chief of Police. Public Information Officer (PIO): The Department’s PIO serves as a central source of information for release by the Department and responds to requests for information by the news media and community.
PERSONNEL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PROVIDING INFORMATION TO THE MEDIA A. When a request for information from the media is received by any employee of the LPD, the employee will refer media questions to the PIO, if the PIO is or will be available within a reasonable length of time. (See IV.,C., below for PIO office hours).
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If the PIO is not available, the request will be referred to a supervisor. If the employee’s supervisor will not be available within a reasonable length of time, the employee may provide general information to the media that is available to the employee within the guidelines outlined in this procedure. NOTE: Release of general information does not include release of restricted written documents, audio tapes, or video tapes (see V.C.3., below).
PIO Information requests should be made to the PIO during normal PIO business hours Monday - Friday, 0900 to 1800 hours (excluding Holidays). The PIO is responsible for: 1. 2. Daily contact with the media regarding routine criminal and departmental matters; Arranging interviews and coordinating special requests from the media with other Departmental personnel; Scheduling press conferences with approval of the Chief of Police; Coordinating news media responses to events receiving widespread attention; and Providing entities designated by the Chief of Police to receive a copy of all press releases.
3. 4. 5.
PIO Callback If needed, PIO callback may be done to provide information services to the media in the following types of situations: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Homicides. Officer-involved shootings, serious accidents, and/or injuries. Life threatening injury/death of police personnel (shooting, accident, etc.). Armed robberies involving serious injury. Car chases involving serious injury and/or death. Kidnappings. Serious events such as hazardous material spills, bombings, train derailments, serial crimes, etc. Page 2 of 8
Capture of outstanding felony suspects involved in a serious crime when media cooperation is required. Incidents when no other police employee will be available to handle a media inquiry on a major event within a reasonable length of time. Any event with significant media interest not directly related to police responsibilities.
On-Duty Precinct Supervisor/Designee 1. All supervisors have a responsibility to respond to media requests for information regarding police related incidents. Supervisors/designee will release information to members of the news media in a timely manner when a request is made and such information is authorized for release. As time permits at the scene of an incident or after an incident for which PIO callback will not be done, the on-duty precinct supervisor/designee will handle general media inquiries under the guidelines in this procedure.
On-Duty Communications Center Supervisor/Designee Communications Center Supervisors/designee may answer preliminary media inquiries prior to or in lieu of referral to a Precinct supervisor, the PIO, or the Lansing Fire Department in the following types of circumstances: 1. Preliminary information on hazardous material spills, traffic congestion, road closings, etc.. Arrests of fugitive felons. Preliminary information on property damage or personal injury accidents. Media staging point and scene commander for tactical operations. NOTE: 5. This does not include information concerning raids.
2. 3. 4.
Preliminary information on other types of criminal or noncriminal newsworthy events for which the Communications Center Supervisor is familiar and comfortable releasing information.
Non-Supervisory Personnel Page 3 of 8
Officers and Detectives assigned to a case will not discuss an incident with media representatives or release any information without the express approval of a supervisor and within guidelines of this procedure. Media representatives will be referred to a supervisor. V. GUIDELINES FOR RELEASING INFORMATION TO THE MEDIA A. Information That May Be Released: 1. The nature of the crime/incident; including location (if private residence, only block number should be released), date, time, and any narcotics or weapons confiscated. NOTE: To reduce undue concern by relatives and friends, avoid describing a victim or injured person’s medical condition.
The circumstances surrounding an arrest; including in general terms the actions of the arresting/investigating officers, the time and place (excluding arrests made at a victim’s residence or business unless the address is used to identify the location of the crime), any resistance, possession and use of weapons by the defendant(s), and any item(s) recovered as a result. If an investigator is assigned or will be assigned to the case, he/she will be consulted prior to the release of any significant detail on the case. After arraignment or after issuance of a warrant (if not in custody), the accused can be identified by name and/or photograph if the release will not compromise an ongoing investigation or the apprehension of the accused.
Information Not to Be Released 1. In accordance with the provisions of the CRIME VICTIM RIGHTS ACT (MCL 780.758) and pursuant to section 24 of article I of the State Constitution, which guarantees crime victims the right to be treated with respect for their dignity and privacy, the following information relating to “crime victims”, as that term is defined in the Act, shall not be released: a. Home address, home telephone number, work address, and work telephone number. A picture, photograph, drawing, or other visual representation, including any film, videotape, or digitally stored image of the victim. Information in (a) and (b) above may be released to a victim advocacy organization or agency for the purpose of providing victim services. Page 4 of 8
Any information that could unnecessarily put another person or police personnel at risk. Specific information that could put the success of a criminal investigation in jeopardy. A Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) victim’s name, address, and specific location of the CSC crime if it would reveal the victim’s identity. Prior to issuance of an arrest warrant by a judge/magistrate or prior to arraignment if the accused is in custody, the accused should not be identified by name or photograph, but may be referred to in general terms (age and sex). In incidents involving death, DO NOT release the victim’s name until the next-of-kin has been notified. Observations about a suspect, witness, or victim’s character, credibility, reputation, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. Statements, admissions, confessions, refusal to make a statement, possible pleas, or alibis attributable to a suspect or defendant. Statements concerning the content of the testimony of prospective witnesses or victims. Statements concerning potential defense arguments that may be raised in court proceedings (refer media to the Prosecutor’s Office). Statements concerning inadmissible evidence that may create a substantial risk of prejudicing an impartial trial. Any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant in a criminal or civil matter. The identity of the hospital a victim, witness, or accused has been taken to for treatment (to protect the injured party and/or hospital staff from avoidable confrontations or distractions).
Other Restrictions 1. In accordance with MCL 15.243(1)(d), information “otherwise protected by law” should not be released. Such information includes, but may not be limited to the following:
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LEIN printouts or LEIN data shall not be released to a private party for any purpose in accordance with MCL 28.214(a). Polygraph test results shall not be released to a third party, except as otherwise required by law; MCL 338.1728. Information relating to parental kidnapping charges when the charges have been set aside and the case dismissed; MCL 750.350(a). First offense controlled substance violations under article 7 of the Public Health Code when terms and conditions of probation have been fulfilled; limited to one occurrence; MCL 333.7411. Criminal records including records of an arrest not followed by a conviction not to be used, examined, or requested by licensing board; MCL 338.43. Records of arrest in domestic assault cases becomes a NONPUBLIC record if requirements of probation are completed; MCL 769.4a(6). Except as otherwise provided by statute, the identity of a reporting person in complaints filed with Protective Services is confidential under provisions of the Child Protection Law; MCL 722.625. The identity of film processors reporting child sexually abusive activity or material, unless the processor consents; MCL 750.145c. Orders setting aside convictions are nonpublic and available only to a court of competent jurisdiction or law enforcement agency for limited purposes; MCL 780.623. Serious communicable disease or HIV records are confidential and may be released only in accordance with MCL 333.5131.
Consistent with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, MCL 15.243, the following items may be exempt from disclosure and such an exemption or denial to access must be approved by one of the City’s appointed Freedom of Information Act Officers: a. b. c. Social security numbers; Identity of law enforcement undercover officers; Any information of a personal nature which, if released, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy; Page 6 of 8
Records relating to a civil action where the requesting party and public body are parties; Any investigating record which, when applying a balancing test would, i. ii. iii. iv. v. interfere with law enforcement proceedings; deprive a person of fair trial or administrative adjudication; constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal property; disclose a confidential source of information; or disclose investigative techniques, procedures, or endanger the safety of law enforcement personnel.
Law enforcement communication codes, plans or techniques.
News releases or comments concerning internal investigation matters may only be given by the Office of the Chief of Police. Requests for information regarding a juvenile’s identity and address should be directed to the Prosecutor’s Office. When a request is made under FOIA to review or receive a copy of a Departmental document, policy, procedure, audiotape, videotape, or other record or report, the requesting party will be referred to the Headquarters service desk to complete the appropriate form(s).
GENERAL GUIDELINES A. Access to crime scenes and other locations 1. The news media will be prohibited from photographing subjects in custody within restricted areas of the LPD. Personnel may not prohibit photographs of subjects in custody while in a public place (e.g., while seated in a police vehicle, being escorted through the lobby of the police building, etc.). The news media will be denied access to any area where the possibility exists that evidence may be damaged, destroyed, or altered. A media representative may be denied access to private property unless granted permission by the property owner, their agent, or other person in charge of the Page 7 of 8
premises. This consent should be voluntary and without coercion. 4. Media accompaniment of police in the execution of a search or arrest warrant on private property requires permission granted by the owner, their agent, or other person in control of the premises. This consent should be voluntary and without coercion. Members of the media will be denied access to any area that would disrupt tactical police plans or operations or would jeopardize the life of, or present the substantial possibility of injury to any LPD personnel or citizen. Personnel shall not facilitate access to private property for media representatives. NOTE: Media representatives will be denied access to an area if life threatening conditions exist.
In all cases where access to an area or information is denied, as outlined in this procedure, the media representative will be given a prompt and courteous explanation of the reason for such denial.
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