Otterbein University Police Department Public Records Policy

It is the mission and intent of the Otterbein University Police Department to establish a reference and procedure for the security and release of Otterbein Police records in accordancewith the Ohio Public Records Act (ORC 149.43(E)

The Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not apply to state or local records.

Public Records

Defined as any item kept by a public office that meets all of the following:

  • Is stored on a fixed medium, (such as paper, electronic – including but not limited to e-mail, and other formats);
  • Is created or received by, or sent under the jurisdiction of a public office; and
  • Documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office. A public office is not required to create new records to respond to a public records request, even if it is only a matter of compiling information from existing records.

Public Request For Records

Public records requests shall be made Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The records shall be released by the Chief or designee. The department will prominently display a sign that contains basic rights of a person who requests public information, the Department’s procedures and the cost of obtaining copies.

A member of the public may request access to records of this agency by mail, facsimile, email, telephone or in person. The Department may ask the requestor of records to provide specific identifying information about the record sought to enable the Department to identify, locate and supply the records within a reasonable period. The Department should ask the format or medium of the record and delivery manner the requester would like, if options are available (ORC 149.43(B) (6) (7)).

Processing Of Requests

All requests for records should be directed or forwarded to the Otterbein Police Department for processing. A person seeking records may not make their own copies of the records (ORC 149.43(B) (6)).

If the Department receives a request for records by mail, facsimile or e-mail that do not provide enough information to identify the records sought, the Department shall send the requester the appropriate records request form, an explanation of the inability to identify the records sought, and the need for additional information.

Responses to requests for records shall be promptly prepared and made available for inspection or a copy thereof as soon as practicable as the specific circumstances of the request dictate. Factors include the circumstances of the public office; the nature of the request; and whether legal review is required. If the request cannot be fulfilled within a reasonable amount of time after the date of request, department personnel shall notify the person seeking the records in writing (ORC 149.43(B)(1)).

Denial Of Requests

A request to release, inspect or copy a record that is restricted from release shall be forwarded to legal counsel for review and decision regarding the action to be taken. The Department shall inform the requester in writing that their request involves records that are believed to be restricted from release, inspection or copying and the request is being reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that exempt, protected or restricted information is not improperly released.

If a request for records is ultimately denied, in part or in whole, the employee denying the request shall provide the person requesting records with an explanation, including legal authority, setting forth why the request was denied via a Notice of Denial, Denial In Part, or Redaction Form (RC461). If the initial request was provided in writing, the explanation also shall be provided to the person requesting records in writing (ORC 149.43(B) (3)).

If the requester makes an ambiguous or overly broad request or has difficulty in making a request for copies or inspection of public records and Department personnel cannot reasonably identify what public records are being requested, the Department will contact the requester for clarification. If the requester does not provide any clarification, the Department may deny the request.

Copying And Mailing Costs

Those seeking public records may be charged only the actual cost of making copies, not labor. The charge for paper copies is $.03 cents per page for black and white. A requester may be required to pay in advance for costs involved in providing the copy. If a requester asks that documents be mailed, he or she may be charged the actual cost of the postage and mailing supplies. There is no charge for documents e-mailed.