What is the California Public Records Act?
The California Public Records Act (the “Act”) is Government Code sections 6250-6270 and was enacted by the California Legislature in 1968 after a 15 year effort to create a records law for California. The beginning of the Act reads “In enacting this chapter, the Legislature, mindful of the right of individuals to privacy, finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.”
A public record is a wide variety of documents and other materials (including print, photographic, and electronic formats) that were created or obtained by a city agency and are, at the time the request is filed, in the department's possession and control. The Act excludes certain categories of records from disclosure, including materials related to internal agency rules, proprietary business information, inter- and intra-agency communications that are protected by legal privileges, and personal privacy. Other exclusions apply for Police Department Records (please see Police Department Records below).
Who Can Initiate a Request?
Anyone may initiate a request for public records.
How May I Request Records?
Requests for records are submitted to the City Clerk’s office at 1110 West Capitol Avenue, Third Floor, West Sacramento, CA 95691 or by facsimile to 916-372-8765. State law does not require a written request for records, nor does it require a person to disclose personal information to receive public records. However, filling out the Request for Public Records form will allow City staff to more accurately identify the records sought and process the request more efficiently. Be as specific as possible when making your request; include dates and times if applicable, and any details regarding the information you are requesting. If you need assistance in making a focused and effective request that reasonably describes an identifiable record, please let us know and we will be happy to assist you. For further information, call (916) 617-4500 or email email@example.com.
How Soon Must the City Respond?
You will be notified within ten (10) days whether your request seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of this agency. In most cases, your request will be processed in two to four weeks, or sooner.
The City may invoke a 14 working day extension of time to determine whether to comply with your request if there is a need to:
- Search for and collect the requested records from field facilities;
- Search for and examine a voluminous number of records;
- Consult with other agencies or City departments having a substantial interest in the determination of the request;
- Compile data or construct a computer report to extract data.
How Much Will I Be Charged for My Request?
This is no charge for the inspection of records. However, there is a charge for the direct cost of duplication. Fees are pursuant to the City’s Book of Imposts. Payment must be made prior to release of records requested. If the documents requested exceed 100 pages, a deposit may be requested.
Police Department Records
Based on the definition of a public record, the report of crimes and incidents written in the course of business of a law enforcement agency are public records and subject to release under the Act with some exemptions.
What Types of Records are Available?
The law requires law enforcement agencies to provide information the public has the right to know and at the same time, to withhold information if the release would jeopardize an individual's right to privacy.
All agency records not exempted by statutory of case law are available. Certain records or portions of records are subject to privacy laws and/or other exemptions and are rarely ever available for viewing. Common public records requests are for:
- Arrest logs
- Calls for service logs
- Daily activity logs
- 9-1-1 and telephone recordings
- Crime reports
- Accident reports
- Registrant files (Megan's Law)
- Traffic Citations
- Local summary criminal history information for an individual
- Warrant information
- Juvenile Records
It is the responsibility of the law enforcement agencies to allow the public access to certain information obtained during the normal course of daily business.
Law Enforcement personnel must be aware of and apply the legal exemptions to the release of some information to protect individual privacy, safety and reputation.
Government Code Section 6254 and Exemptions
Government Code section 6254 specifies exemptions in order to balance the individual's right to privacy with the public's need for information. Items that will most likely be redacted from West Sacramento Police Department public records are:
- Identifying juvenile information
- Identifying victim information associated with crimes to Penal Code Sections 261,264,264.1,273a,273d,286,288 or 289
- Identifying confidential informant information
- Criminal offender record information
- Information that may endanger the safety of a witness or the other person
- Information that may jeopardize an investigation, related investigation or law enforcement proceeding
- Any portion of the report that reflects analysis, recommendation or conclusion of the investigating officer
- Information that may disclose investigative techniques
- Information that may deprive a person of a fair trial
- Preliminary drafts, notes, or memorandums which are not retained in the ordinary course of business
- Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the City is a party until the litigation is adjudicated or settled
- Personnel, medical or similar files