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September 30, 2020

Request: Did the Mandan Police Department violate the open records law by improperly charging for records, failing to provide the legal authority for redacting records, and improperly redacting records?

Conclusion: The Mandan Police Department received a request for records relating to two incidents involving dog attacks. The requester specifically asked for any denial of records or information to be in writing. The department sent a cost estimate to the requester, giving the requester the option of either receiving actual color copies of photographs or, for a lesser amount, a CD with the photos. The charges calculated by the department were reasonable and complied with the law. The requester ultimately received 32 pages of redacted records and the CD with the photographs. The department failed to provide the legal authority for withholding information. Though there are protections in the law for some information contained in law enforcement records, the department went beyond those protections, redacting such information as the business address of the veterinarian and the breed, species, color and sex of the dogs at issue. The Mandan Police Department must provide the properly redacted records at no charge.

Opinion: 2020-O-10

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