Incident reports are now public record
Published 4:33 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2008
As of Tuesday, law enforcement incident reports are public record.
House Bill 474 was passed into law by the last regular session of the Mississippi Legislature and took effect on Tuesday. Incident reports as described in the bill include, at a minimum, “the name and identification of each person charged with and arrested for the alleged offense, the time, date and location of the alleged offense, and the property involved,” the bill states.
According to a reading of the bill by 15th Judicial District Attorney Hal Kittrell, the Picayune Police Department has been providing information of this nature for years, and the department has no plans of changing their current practices, Chief Jim Luke said.
“We’re already exceeding what House Bill 474 requires,” said Deputy Chief David Ervin.
Narratives, a detailed explanation of the events leading up to the arrest, will not be considered public record since many times the narratives contain investigative techniques, Ervin said. If information in a narrative becomes available to the public, then that information is released in the form of a department press release.
Incident reports also will be available at the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and the Poplarville Police Department. It may be a few weeks before the reports are readily available at the Poplarville Police Department since the department is in the process of having new computer software installed to help with the reports, said Chief Charlie Fazende.
“The only reason we’d even withhold any information is simply for the integrity of the investigation,” Fazende said.
For the past several months the department has been revamping its computer system, including installing the software to produce incident reports.
“We’re certainly going to comply with the new law,” Fazende said.
Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Shane Tucker said incident reports became available at their office as of Tuesday.
Public requests can be made by visiting the office believed involved in an arrest.
A spokesman for Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop K, which is the troop that covers Pearl River county and its surrounding counties, was unavailable for comment.
A copy of the bill can be viewed online at http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2008/html/HB/0400-0499/HB0474PS.htm.