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May 8, 2014 - 4:04pm

City denies request for public records related to unintended discharge of officer's firearm

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia PD.

The City of Batavia has denied The Batavian's request for the incident reports and possible video related to an unintended discharge of a weapon by a Batavia police officer last month.

From City Clerk Heidi Parker, the city's Freedom of Information Law Officer:

Your request for the incident report, witness statements and video, if any, has been denied after discussion with Bob Freeman from the Committee on Open Government based on NYS Civil Rights Law section 50-a since the incident in question is part of the officer’s training and evaluation process to continue employment with the City. The incident report specifically is denied based on unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

The Batavian has taken the next step in the process for demanding disclosure of public documents and filed an appeal with City Manager Jason Molino.

To say that routine incident reports are used in officer evaluation would essentially make all police documents related to incidents confidential. Even routine arrests would be hidden from the public. That's clearly not the intent of the legislature.

Numerous sources have provided information to The Batavian indicating that there is more to this incident than Chief Shawn Heubusch is disclosing. 

UPDATE Friday, 4:50 p.m.: We received a letter from Jason Molino informing The Batavian that he is partially granting our appeal.  The incident report will be released after personal information has been redacted. Up to five business days. He's denying the request for "Special Reports" and "Police Training Reports" (we didn't specifically request those documents, because we didn't know the names of the documents, but they could be generally construed as covered by our request).  Molino said those documents are expect from disclosure under Civil Service Law 50-a.  He provided copies of the complete redacted reports, with only the memo heads remaining.  Since these reports appear to have been generated in conjunction with an internal investigation, it's likely these documents would be considered "used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion." 

Previously: Accidental weapon discharge leads to internal police investigation

Tim Miller
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Go get'em, Howard... Seems like a pretty lame excuse.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Good work Howard.

Dave Olsen
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Good work Howard. I love how the Committee For Open Government is helping to close off Government

Howard B. Owens
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Dave, not everything is as it seems. More TK.

Robert Brown
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Does anyone believe government represents the citizens? Do we not have the right to understand how police officers who we pay are being trained and evaluated in our community? The "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" applies to an officer's personal life, not conduct on the job or while undergoing training and evaluation. Do we not have the right to question unsafe training practices? Do we not have the right to question unsafe conduct? How are we supposed to understand the events without details? How are we supposed to assess the quality of our law enforcement without on-the-job details? Are we supposed to just sit back and enjoy our law enforcement without question just because they exist?

Dave Olsen
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It rarely is when the cops are protecting themselves

Richard Richmond II
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I’m looking forward to see how members of our Batavia City Council will respond or merely remain silent to keep this secret and cloaked in darkness.

There are two for certain who won’t be intimidated and will demand transparency in the public forum; Gino Jankowski and John Deleo.

John Roach
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Molino should know this is not going to go away, so just be upfront and stop hiding everything.

david spaulding
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..... really ironic that a police officer can punch a few keys on his patrol car lap top and find out what ever he pleases about us and yet we can't get a patrol mans name..

won't be long before they are wearing masks like the other third world countries...

alvin tufts
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Why go through them? Doesn't anyone reading the Batavian know what happened and who? What about the homeowner?

Brett DeKruger
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Nothing to see here. Move along. **sarcastic eye roll**

Howard B. Owens
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First, I'm not really interested in the officers' names. I have a very good idea of what happened and at worst it's just a training issue. I'm confident in the professionalism of all the officers who were on scene. That's not the issue. If the city released the documents without redacting the names, based on what I know now, I wouldn't publish them. They don't need the hassle of being hassled by suspects they might deal with in unrelated incidents. I would consider it an officer safety issue.

The issue is one of being transparent about what actually happened. As far as I'm concerned the only issue here is the lack of transparency.

Second, the homeowner was outside when the incident took place. I can't locate the subject who was in the house.

Howard B. Owens
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Post updated.

Bob Harker
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Not to worry, Dave. It's just the obama version of transparency.

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