Georgia Law Enforcement and the Open Records Act
A Law Enforcement Officer’s Guide to Open Records in Georgia (Third Edition, 2014), also known as The Blue Book, was a collaborative effort between the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Law, Georgia First Amendment Foundation, Georgia Press Association, Georgia Public Safety Training Center, Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, Georgia Department of Public Safety, and the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. While specifically designed to assist law enforcement, it is also a useful guide for prosecuting attorneys.
For anyone responding to an open records request, there are three basic points with which to be familiar:
- The Open Records Act, O.C.G.A. 50-18-70 et. seq., requires a response to an open records request within three business days pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(b)(1)(A). There is no accommodation for an unavailable open records officer, so PAC recommends that there be more than one person in an agency who is capable of responding if the designated Open Records Officer is unavailable.
- If the response is to deny all or part of the requested records, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(d), the initial response must cite the exemption by the exact code section, subsection, and paragraph which allows the decision to not disclose the requested records. Failure to do so could result in a waiver of the exemption and a requirement of production of the records.
- An agency should always strive to be transparent and provide access to public records without undue delay. However, the Open Records Act does not require an agency to engage in the creation or customization of records just to be responsive. Therefore, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(j), an agency is not required to prepare a report, summary, or compilation of records or data that did not already exist at the time an open records request was made.
Questions? Contact PAC at firstname.lastname@example.org
To view and download: Georgia Law Enforcement and the Open Records Act: A Law Enforcement Officer’s Guide to Open Records in Georgia (Blue Book, Third Edition 2014)