PCSO Forced to Release Email Addresses
FYI – for a few weeks now The Arizona Republic has been seeking email addresses from the PCSO of people who have signed signed up to receive email alerts from the PCSO and send in tips as well. The PCSO was legally obliged to release the information, even though they said all information was to be kept private. However, there was no mechanism in place to make that happen.
Below is an email exchange between Tim Gaffney, Director of Communications/Grants for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, and Rebekah Sanders of The Arizona Republic. I copied and pasted from our email, which reads from the bottom up is you want to follow the exchange chronologically.
This is YOUR chance to voice your opinion on this. So if you have signed up with the PCSO to receive information or alert them with crime tips and your personal email address was released, let them know how you feel. There are email addresses included to send your opinions to.
On 3/15/2012 11:04 AM, Tim Gaffney wrote:
Greetings,After I sent out the below email, I have been flooded with emails and calls regarding this issue. Please understand it was never our desire to give out this information nor share it as I agree it is personal and private. I have tried to argue against the release of your private email addresses but have been told by our legal advisor I have to give them up.Many people have sent Ms. Sanders emails expressing your opinions. I have also received requests of who else you can express your feelings too about this issue. Two other people you might consider would be Nicole Carroll who runs the Arizona Republic here in Arizona and Gracia Martore who is in charge of Gannet who is the parent company which owns the Arizona Republic and USA Today. Below are their email addresses.Respectfully,On 3/14/2012 at 4:04 PM, in message <4F60C0F0.457D.firstname.lastname@example.org>, Tim Gaffney wrote:Good morning. Please see the below email exchange between myself and Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic.On February 29th, she submitted a public records request to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. One of the items which concerns you is she has requested the email addresses of everyone on our citizens email distribution list. As you can see I have requested to keep the information private but she insists on having it. We have consulted our legal advisor and have been advised the email addresses have to be released if Ms. Sanders will not withdraw the request. Ms. Sanders has told us she will not be withdrawing the request.The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office respects your privacy and have done everything in our power not to release your email address. During this past week, I have had conversations with several of you who are upset that the Arizona Republic would demand this information. I ask if you have an opinion and wish to express it that you do so to the reporter Rebekah Sanders (Rebekah.Sanders@arizonarepublic.com) who submitted the request as my hands are tied.RespectfullyOn 3/1/2012 at 5:50 PM,Tim Gaffney wrote:
Thanks for your email back Rebekah. The vast majority of the email addresses collected and placed on the “Citizens Alert Network” came directly from community meetings where our office had sign up sheets and or provided my email address so individuals can send me their email contact information to sign up. One of the areas our office has really worked hard on over the past few years is community policing. Community policing is the collaborative partnerships between a law enforcement agency and the individuals and organizations we serve to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in law enforcement. One of the classes I attended many years back on Community Policing suggested creating a “Citizen Alert Network” so we can keep the public informed of crimes occurring in their area. Citizens have appreciated this direct line of communications with our office and we have strengthened our relationships and trust with the citizens we serve. In turn, citizens have acted as our eyes and ears as our office is dramatically understaffed as compared to other law enforcement agencies. Not sure if you knew, but our office has .6 deputies per 1,000 residents we serve which standard policing models show we should have 2.0 per 1,000. Citizens have quite often sent us tips regarding crimes or situations which they need our assistance through this service. The release of the citizens personal email addresses would violate the trust they have as once again we assured people we have never shared their contact information and have assured the majority of the people who signed up that we never would. Hopefully this will help you better understand my request. Thanks again Rebekah for your consideration….TimOn 3/1/2012 at 4:06 PM”Sanders, Rebekah” <Rebekah.Sanders@arizonarepublic.com> wrote:
As for request 6, I understand your concern about shielding identities of residents who have submitted crime reports. Thankfully, we aren’t asking for crime reports and don’t intend to contact residents related to them. Instead we are seeking the email addresses of residents that receive PCSO news, community bulletins, etc. to stay up to date on the latest happening in their county. We believe this is a public record. Additionally, you are concerned that PCSO has promised residents on the email list that their contact information would not be shared outside of PCSO. Could you direct me to where that promise is made? Neither the PCSO email submission form http://pinalcountyaz.gov/Departments/Sheriff/Pages/EmailSubmission.aspx nor the Pinal County mailing list sign up http://pinalcountyaz.gov/departments/newsinformation/pages/mailinglist.aspx indicate residents’ email addresses or messages will be withheld from public records requests.
From: Tim Gaffney [mailto:Tim.Gaffney@pinalcountyaz.gov]
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 10:44 AM
To: Sanders, Rebekah
Cc: email@example.com; Elias Johnson; Heather Murphy; Carroll, Nicole
Subject: Public records request – Arizona Republic
Good morning Rebekah,
Regarding request number six I am asking if you would respectfully consider withdrawing this request. The reason being is the citizens signed up to be placed on this list so that they will receive News Releases and information about pending events in Pinal County. Citizens also submit crimes tips and do not want to be identified. We have always told the citizens we will not release their information to anybody else so that they will not receive unwanted solicitation and feel they can communicate with the Sheriff’s Office privately about crimes or issues they need assistance with. Thank you for your consideration…Tim
Director of Communications/Grants
Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
971 Jason Lopez Circle
Florence, Arizona 85231
firstname.lastname@example.orgOn 2/29/2012 at 5:32 PM,“Sanders, Rebekah” <Rebekah.Sanders@arizonarepublic.com> wrote:
Feb. 29, 2012
Under the Arizona Public Records Law (A.R.S. §§ 39-121 through 39-121.03), I am requesting to inspect (and, if available, receive electronically) the following public records:
PLEASE PROVIDE by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 8, 2012:
List of all email addresses in the email listserv/database used by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office to send communications/bulletins to residents, business owners, neighborhood groups, etc.
As you know, “public records” are defined broadly by Arizona law. All public records are presumed open to public inspection, absent a specific statutory exemption to the contrary. As the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has observed, any doubts about the scope of the public’s right of access “should be resolved in favor of disclosure.”
If you believe that portions of the records sought are exempt from disclosure, the law requires that you segregate or redact those portions of the records and make the non-exempt records available for inspection and copying. If you believe that any of the records are not subject to inspection, please provide a brief written explanation of the basis and authority for withholding the records.
The Arizona Public Records Law requires that public bodies provide access to public records “promptly.” Accordingly, I request that you make these records available by 5 p.m. Friday, March 2 for request #1 and 5 p.m. Thursday, March 8 for requests #2-6. If this isn’t achievable, please contact me so we can discuss the reasons for any delay. I can be reached at 602-444-8096.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
Rebekah L. Sanders
Congressional reporter, The Arizona Republic
O: 602-444-8096 C: 602-663-0045
Follow me on Twitter @RebekahLSanders
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-- Jeff and Arline Studley, Coordinators for San Tan Heights Community Watch http://sthcw.comCommitment to Community Well Being