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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Reports redact private info

Police reports are open to the public, but do you ever wonder how open they are?

The University of Arizona Police Department follows specific policies and procedures when dealing with police reports and, more specifically, redactions — information excluded — according to Luis Puig, UAPD custodian of public records.

Puig said there is no law regarding redactions in police reports; it is something extended to certain victims.

For instance, the names of rape victims would almost always be redacted; and juvenile victims and Social Security numbers are typically redacted.

The UAPD record section staff is responsible for physically redacting every document the department receives.

Redaction policies are that officers will make a copy of a report when it is authorized to be released, white out identified information and then keep a copy on file.

Puig said if a high-profile case is under investigation and releasing the names of the witnesses would hinder prosecution of the crime or harm the victim, he would consult his commander and see if withholding that information would be in the best interest of the individual.

He recalled an instance a few years ago when a resident assistant reported a couple of students with possession of marijuana in their dorm. The students were arrested and the following day came down to the records section wanting to see what was written up. Puig said he felt uncomfortable releasing the whole copy because of the way it was being asked for, and he did not want the RA to be harmed.

“”We call it the balancing test,”” Puig said. “”Every document is subject to inspection by the public. The fact that it’s active, I have to do a balancing test to make sure we are not interfering with operations.””

Puig said names do get released at times, sometimes unintentionally, because sometimes it can be difficult to redact every single name.

Isabel Trujillo, supervisor of Tucson police records, said redactions are personal identification information such as date of birth and Social Security numbers.

When dealing with civil cases, no information is redacted, Trujillo said.

If there is a closed investigation or a misdemeanor arrest case and it is not assigned to a detective, redactions would include: date of birth, Social Security numbers, victim addresses and information on anyone under the age of 13.

All suspect information is removed, she said, except brief descriptions like “”Hispanic male.””

“”If cases are under investigation we send them to a detective and they tell us what can be released,”” she said. “”They don’t want to jeopardize information at their digression.””  

Collision reports are different, Trujillo said. Suspect vehicle information is removed unless it is a hit and run.

“”The reports are usually clear cut,”” Trujillo said.

Political science sophomore Matthew Zukerman said he would assume that people’s names, drivers license numbers, addresses and cell phone numbers would be on a police report automatically.

He said he finds the guidelines that UAPD follows to be straightforward and fair but was surprised that more personal information is not included in reports.

 

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