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Policy Recommendation 05.27.03

Subject: Logging system for external requests of SFPD incident reports and written guidelines for immediate window release of particular incident reports

Recommendation:

The Office of Citizen Complaints recommends that the San Francisco Police Department establish a method to document the receipt and processing of all external requests for incident reports. Additionally, the Office of Citizen Complaints recommends that the San Francisco Police Department develop guidelines and criteria for the immediate release of selected Incident Reports at the Report Management Section (RMS) window and provide information to the public (through posted signs, the Department's website, telephone recordings) as to what reports can be immediately released and how to request such reports.

Although the Report Management Section of the San Francisco Police Department has a method to document the receipt and processing of internal requests for incident reports, it does not have a similar system for external requests. According to RMS's personnel, their division receives an average of 180 external requests for incident reports a day. During recent discussions with the RMS Captain, he has stated that he is currently exploring how to expand the database to include a method for documenting the receipt and processing of external requests for incident reports. Additionally, he has written a unit general order for the immediate release of certain incident reports at the RMS window. This unit general order is still undergoing revisions and authorization. These steps, once instituted, would significantly address the problems raised by the case discussed below that gave rise to this policy recommendation. The OCC recommends that the documenting system and unit order be expeditiously implemented and that the public be informed (through e.g. posted signs,, the Department's website, telephone recordings) as to what reports can be immediately released and how to request such reports.

Case Background:

A law firm representing a client who was injured during a car accident requested twice by a written letter a copy of the incident report from SFPD's Report Management Section. When the law firm still had not received the incident report three months after the requests, a legal assistant for the law firm went to SFPD's Report Management Section and submitted another written request for the incident report. When the 10-day processing period had expired, the legal assistant inquired as to the status of the third written request. None of the previous written requests could be located.

Investigated by: David Aulet
Prepared by: SAMARA MARION, Senior Attorney
Approved by: DONNA MEDLEY, Acting Director
Date: March 27, 2003

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