For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 33

or citizen identifications may not be crucial to
your request. Also, it could be a legitimate reason
for a denial of your request. The content of the
information as it relates to police officer procedure
and policy is much more important, and most likely
more relevant, to your case.
Furthermore, when an objection due to private
or public safety is raised, remember that this must
be an actual, real and apparent risk. Something
more than mere speculation must be present.15
Look for testimony about specific areas of risk
and whether they are true risks versus blanket
statements in order to prevent disclosure. Question
who is making this assertion, what experience
they have in this area, and what can they point to
as a possible threat following the release of this
information?
Agencies will typically try to cite CHRIA as a
pseudo-catch all to prevent disclosure. Records
connected to criminal proceedings are not
automatically exempt.16 In these situations, you
can emphasize redaction in certain documents
you are requesting. Also, be specific in what you
are requesting. Information that may sometimes
be involved in criminal activity but is not specific
to criminal activity is not exempt from disclosure.
For example, Motor Vehicle Recordings [MVR] are
not specific to criminal investigations; rather, they
document an officer's performance and duties.
These MVR's sometimes capture incidents that
result in criminal investigations, but this is not their
sole purpose.17

What Can We Do?
The intent of the RTKL was to expand the
public's access to government documents and avoid
secrecy. However, it has been common for police
departments to avoid disclosing any meaningful
information by claiming one of the above
exceptions. They will go further and argue that it
is not a denial of access when an agency does not
possess records and there is no legal obligation
to obtain them. Reliance on such exceptions is
troubling, as PSP and other police departments
claim that they do not have any training manuals,
handbooks, data logs, etc., but we know they were
trained and provided materials for that training.

To cite one illuminating example, in a
case involving the use of a dog sniff and K-9
indication, a police officer testified to the use of
K-9 Utilization Forms in order to track the use
of their K-9. However, once a PSP RTK request
was filed requesting those K-9 Utilization Forms,
PSP originally denied their existence and then
objected to them being released.
Using court records as evidence of the
existence of specific material can be useful.
Use motions in limine and cross examination
to establish the existence of specific training
manuals or forms that officers use. Take those
records and cite to them in subpoenas and RTK
requests. If you are denied a RTK request or
it is alleged that the records requested do not
exist, then it is important to question the police
officer about details of their record keeping and
training materials. You can use OOR and officer's
testimony against each other to call into question
an officer's and agency's credibility.
It is important to not allow officers to testify
to legal terms without forcing them to produce
the documentation to support it. This is crucial
in two key phrases police officers use as a crutch:
"high crime, high drug area" and "source
city." The courts have consistently relied on
these factors to influence reasonable suspicion
determinations. However, these phrases are
used without any actual data being presented
to the Courts to evaluate the true weight of the
terms. Without push back from the defense, it
is as if we are allowing the court to take judicial
notice of these highly influential terms. File RTK
requests and subpoenas with the respective
departments asking for data and documentation
as to how and why these designations are being
made. These requests can include data that
represents the number of crimes committed in
a year at a location, the types of crimes, and
the agency's definition of "high crime, high
drug area" or "source city." Providing a judge
with documentation collected from a police
department or related agencies that identifies
the actual numbers and policies in place, or lack
thereof, will carry much more weight than an
argument with a police officer on stand.

Vol. 4, Issue 4

l

For The Defense

33



For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4

Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 1
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 2
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 4
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 5
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 6
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 7
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 8
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 9
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 10
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 11
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 12
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 13
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 14
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 15
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 16
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 17
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 18
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 19
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 20
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 21
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 22
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 23
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 24
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 25
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 26
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 27
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 28
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 29
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 30
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 31
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 32
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 33
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 34
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 35
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 36
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 37
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 38
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 39
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 40
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 41
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 42
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 43
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 44
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 45
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 46
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 47
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 48
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 49
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 50
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 51
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 52
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 53
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For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 56
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 57
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 58
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