Nice New Audit by Cal Aware...Charles Davis
November 28, 2007 — 1,180 views
The vast majority of San Diego's law enforcement agencies are still not meeting the basic requirements of California public records law, according to an audit organized by Californians Aware, an open government advocacy group.
The audit, carried out in San Diego by local journalists, found that local law enforcement agencies had reasonable or good customer-service levels, but that most of them still do not provide citizens with basic information about crimes.
The California Public Records Act requires that such information, including traffic accident reports, crime logs and an agency's financial records be made available to the public. In theory, any citizen should be able to walk into their local police station and pick up a report on a crime that has been committed in their neighborhood.
But when auditors in San Diego tried to do just that they came up empty-handed time and time again, according to the audit. The auditors visited the major police stations for 12 law enforcement agencies in the county and asked for a police report on a recent burglary or other property crime in the area. The auditors took notes on everything from how they were treated by police staff to how long it took to get their results.
Charles N. Davis is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and the executive director for the National Freedom of Information Coalition, headquartered at the School. Davis' scholarly research focuses on access to governmental information and new media law, including jurisdictional issues, intellectual property and online libel. He has earned a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work in furthering freedom of information and the University of Missouri-Columbia Provost's Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching, as well as the Faculty-Alumni Award.