04/15/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/15/2021 17:59
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that his office has issued a finding in response to an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) complaint filed against the Narragansett Police Department by Dimitri Lyssikatos.
As detailed in the finding, the Office of the Attorney General found that 14 internal affairs reports should be disclosed as public records, subject to redactions to protect the privacy interests of the individuals involved.
The finding was issued in response to a complaint against the Narragansett Police Department seeking all final reports of investigations into police misconduct between 2015 and 2018. The Department initially withheld 24 internal affairs reports in their entirety. In response to this Office's findings in an earlier decision involving these parties, Lyssikatos v. Narragansett Police Department, PR 20-58, the Department voluntarily disclosed seven of those reports. The complainant agreed that two of the remaining reports were not responsive to his request but pressed for the disclosure of the remaining 15 reports withheld by the Department.
As detailed in the finding, this Office analyzed the request under the APRA and court decisions interpreting the APRA, applying a balancing test that weighed the public's interest in the information against the privacy interest of the individuals named in the reports. The Office found that the Department should have disclosed 14 of the remaining 15 withheld reports, with redactions to protect the privacy of civilians and law enforcement officers involved, and that one report was appropriately withheld on privacy grounds.
The Office directed the Department to provide the redacted reports to the complainant within 10 business days, at no cost.
The finding makes clear that, where redactions can adequately address the privacy interests of individuals named, reports that shed light on government conduct (or misconduct) and that relate to the management and direction of a law enforcement agency are public.