07-04Posted on Mar 22, 2007 in Formal Opinions
Opinion Letter No. 07-04
March 22, 2007
Police Blotter Information
The Kauai Police Department asked whether it could redact from its Daily Arrest Log, commonly referred to as the police blotter, the names of individuals who were arrested and either released without charges being filed or released pending further investigation.
OIP had previously addressed police blotter information in OIP Opinion Letter Number 91-4, concluding that police blotter data concerning adult offenders did not fall under any exception to the UIPA and thus must be disclosed. However, KPD argued for withholding the names of arrested individuals where the arrestee was released without charges being filed or released pending further investigation. As to second situation, KPD noted that suspects who are released pending further investigation sometimes become police informants, who could be endangered or at least discouraged from informing if they were known to have been arrested.
OIP reiterated its prior holding that police blotter information concerning adult offenders must be made publicly available upon request, even where the arrestee was released without charges being filed or released pending further investigation, noting that it is the overwhelming public interest in how the executive branch of government exercises the arrest power that is dispositive, not the particular circumstances of whether an arrestee is subsequently determined to be innocent or whether law enforcement might find it useful to conceal a potential informant’s arrest.