U Memo 19-3Posted on Sep 14, 2018 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions
U Memo 19-3
September 14, 2018
Information Related to Paid Informants
Not in Agency Records
Requester sought a decision as to whether the Maui Police Department (POLICE-M) properly responded when it stated that it does not maintain records that are responsive to Requester’s request for information related to paid informants.
When a requester contests an agency’s response to a record request stating that no responsive records exist, OIP normally looks at whether the agency’s search for responsive records was reasonable. OIP Op. Ltr. No. 97-08 at 4-6. A reasonable search is one “reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents[,]” and an agency must make “a good faith effort to conduct a search for the requested records, using methods which can be reasonably expected to produce the information requested.” Id. at 5 (citations omitted).
In this case, POLICE-M had conducted at least two separate searches, both of which found no responsive records. POLICE-M explained that its Criminal Investigations Division Commander, the only person who has access to confidential informant records, searched for the requested information in the locked safe where confidential informant files are normally maintained and found no responsive records. POLICE-M also added that due to the age of the requested files, it is unable to determine whether the requested information ever existed, and if the information ever existed, it was likely disposed of in accordance with the County of Maui’s Records Disposition Schedule.
Based on POLICE-M’s explanation that the only person who had access to the requested records searched twice in the only area where the confidential informant files are normally maintained, OIP found that POLICE-M’s searches were reasonable. In addition, OIP found reasonable POLICE-M’s explanation that due to the age of the requested files, POLICE-M is unable to determine whether the requested information ever existed, and if the information ever existed, it was likely disposed of in accordance with the County of Maui’s Records Disposition Schedule as the requested files were over sixteen years old. OIP, therefore, concluded that POLICE-M’s assertion that it does not maintain responsive records was proper.