Kentucky State Police must hand over crime database to Courier Journal, judge rules

Courier Journal by Andrew Wolfson

March 12, 2019

In a victory for the Courier Journal, a Franklin Circuit Court judge has ruled Kentucky State Police must provide the news organization with its entire database of 8 million citations and arrests since 2003.

The state police agency had said it would be too time-consuming to manually redact Social Security numbers and other confidential information from its existing system and too expensive to create a new one that would allow it to be done electronically.

But Judge Thomas Wingate affirmed an attorney general’s opinion that the data is a public record and must be provided.

Ruling in a 10-page opinion on March 1, Wingate held that “case law is clear that an agency should not be able to rely on any inefficiency in its own internal record keeping system to thwart an otherwise proper open records request.”

Attorney Jon Fleischaker, who represented the Courier Journal with Michael Abate and Casey Hinkle, called it an “extremely important decision” because it establishes that an agency’s “negligence and ineptitude in keeping open records is no excuse for not giving them out.”

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