Open records advocates need to be constantly vigilant to challenge the closure of public records. The Indian River County, Florida Sheriff has shut down their online inmate search database because they didn’t have a cost effective means to filter out the records of those whose charges were ultimately dropped or who were found not guilty. The site included name, address, booking photo and charges.
Records that have been posted on the Internet at government Web sites can be withdrawn at any time. In most cases, there’s no obligation for the agencies to make indices, case dockets or files available online. So, send your letters to your local government entities that have records online, expressing appreciation and citing the overriding value of openness over privacy. Or bit by bit, find your interests trumped by these arguments.
However, Raymond said the rise in citizen complaints in the last year made him reassess the online program and ultimately agree it was unfair to some people.
“We simply were getting too many complaints from people who were arrested and later had their charges dropped or were found not guilty,” said Raymond. “Even though they were acquitted, their mug shot and arrest information were still posted online. It was a valid complaint.”