Some government agencies live on the edge. In this case it’s Tukwila PD. Not only do I think it’s illegally destorying fail-safe/pre-event dashcam video but now it’s denied a simple public records request not for video but the dashcam system’s settings. The problem with denying requests is one request for one item cost the City of Shoreline over half a million dollars in daily pentailities for the requester and requester’s attorneys. Shoreline public-records case ends after 7 years

I sent the following request “This is a records request for every agency I know of in Washington State using Coban dashcams. This is for more research into https://seattlepublicrecords.org/news/tim-clemans-proposal-for-retention-schedules-addressing-dashcamera-pre-event-fail-safe-video

I request a copy of every tab for the Coban in-car video unit template(s) be emailed to me. Please screenshot the tabs and redact them via Microsoft Paint.

” start DVMS, select Setup->in-car unit setup, select the template” then screenshot each tab.

These tabs are writings related to the conduct of government retained and used by the agencies and are reasonably locatable.”

This was one email sent to each Washington agency I knew of with Coban video system.

The response was “The City is in receipt of your public records request received via email in the Office of the Tukwila Police Department on August 22, 2016. In summary the request is for the Tukwila Police Department to copy every tab (by taking screen shots) in the Coban in car video unit template(s) and redact using Microsoft paint.

City staff members have reviewed your request and determined that no responsive records exist. In order to provide you with what you are requesting the City would have to collect information or organize data to create a record not existing at the time which is not required by the public records act. This completes your public records request. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 206-433-1806. Please respond via email to let us know that you received this satisfactorily. Thank you.”

The problem with the response is that the records act’s definition of a public record is so broad that in my opinion my request is no doubt for existing records. I immediately filed a request stating “I then request the settings data from the SQL database. What I requested are loctable writtings. I believe the agency has violated the act.” and then called the records officer for Tukwila PD. He was very nice. He promised to contact the Chief and an attorney about this.

While re-reading the KOMO verus Seattle Police dashcam videos case which is one of the few cases I know of dealing with requests for non-standard records, they asked for a list of videos, I came across “see also WAC 44–14–04001” It states “Agencies are encouraged to use technology to provide public records more quickly and, if possible, less expensively. An agency is allowed, of course, to do more for the requestor than is required by the letter of the act. Doing so often saves the agency time and money in the long run, improves relations with the public, and prevents litigation.” So even if TPD is right by honoring the request it could prevent time/money/litigation. It now has to deal with a very technical request for “settings data from the SQL database.” We went from a very easy thing to Google, how to screenshot, to now you need to ask IT to export data which requires calling Coban to figure out which tables and rows to export.

Below is my appeal: “Formal records appeal:

(1) I request to inspect the tabs. I stay at my girlfriends house nearby the police department several days a week. I could inspect the records right now. (2) I believe the agency needs to comply with the law. Here’s my appeal.

I sent the following request “This is a records request for every agency I know of in Washington State using Coban dashcams. This is for more research into https://seattlepublicrecords.org/news/tim-clemans-proposal-for-retention-schedules-addressing-dashcamera-pre-event-fail-safe-video

I request a copy of every tab for the Coban in-car video unit template(s) be emailed to me. Please screenshot the tabs and redact them via Microsoft Paint.

” start DVMS, select Setup->in-car unit setup, select the template” then screenshot each tab.

These tabs are writings related to the conduct of government retained and used by the agencies and are reasonably locatable.”

The agency responded:

“City staff members have reviewed your request and determined that no responsive records exist. In order to provide you with what you are requesting the City would have to collect information or organize data to create a record not existing at the time which is not required by the public records act.”

The definition of a record is extremely broad: ““Public record” includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics. For the office of the secretary of the senate and the office of the chief clerk of the house of representatives, public records means legislative records as defined in RCW40.14.100 and also means the following: All budget and financial records; personnel leave, travel, and payroll records; records of legislative sessions; reports submitted to the legislature; and any other record designated a public record by any official action of the senate or the house of representatives. (4) “Writing” means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, and every other means of recording any form of communication or representation including, but not limited to, letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, motion picture, film and video recordings, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, diskettes, sound recordings, and other documents including existing data compilations from which information may be obtained or translated.”

The settings tabs are: “other documents including existing data compilations from which information may be obtained or translated.” I am not asking for new information to be created. I am requesting existing writings. Screenshotting is the electronic version of photo-copying.

The state supreme court has dealt with this issue http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-supreme-court/1669869.html: “SPD contends that Vedder was asking it to create a new record. This is clearly true to some extent; producing a document that would correlate all of the information Vedder requested would have required mining data from two distinct systems and creating a new document. This is more than the PRA requires. Citizens for Fair Share v. Dep ‘t of Corrections, 117 Wash.App. 411, 435, 72 P.3d 206 (2003) (citing Smith v. Okanogan County, 100 Wash.App. 7, 13–14, 994 P.2d 857 (2000)). However, as SPD’s later response to Rachner demonstrated, it did have the capacity to produce a partially responsive record at the time it denied her request. It should have done so.

¶ 18 We recognize that neither the PRA itself nor our case law have clearly defined the difference between creation and production of public records, likely because this question did not arise before the widespread use of electronically stored data. Given the way public records are now stored (and, in many cases, initially generated), there will not always be a simple dichotomy between producing an existing record and creating a new one. But “public record” is broadly defined and includes “existing data compilations from which information may be obtained” “regardless of physical form or characteristics.” RCW 42.56.010(4), (3). This broad definition includes electronic information in a database. Id.; see also WAC 44–14–04001. Merely because information is in a database designed for a different purpose does not exempt it from disclosure. Nor does it necessarily make the production of information a creation of a record.

¶ 19 Whether a particular public records request asks an agency to produce or create a record will likely often turn on the specific facts of the case and thus may not always be resolved at summary judgment. But for SPD’s response to Rachner’s request, this might well have been such a case. However, the uncontroverted evidence presented showed that a partially responsive response could have been produced at the time of the original denial. The failure to do so violated the PRA.”

Again I’m only asking for existing writings. This is really no different then asking for a copy of three pages out of a book.

I’m extremely bothered by the denial. I am investigating what I believe is illegal destruction of Coban pre-event/failsafe video. I need to know the exact settings the agency has set for the dashcam system. These settings are recorded as electronic writings stored in a SQL database and viewable by non technical folks via a software program called Coban back office.”