NAMELESS: Racop objected to city providing photos of officers identified only by numbers.

UPDATE: The resolution of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking photos of Little Rock police officers grew complicated after Judge Wendell Griffen ruled that blogger Russ Racop, a city board candidate, was entitled to them under the Freedom of Information Act. The city will provide photos, but not with names, said City Tom Carpenter and then came a change of course.

The judge ordered the city to produce the photos last week and the city didn’t appeal the ruling. It produced 443 photos Friday, but said it learned late in the day that it lacked 75 photos of new recruits and said it needed until Monday to supply them. Racop discovered in picking up the first batch of photos that the records he sought had been altered to crop out nameplates in officer photos and to identify them by number rather than name as they existed in the original files he requested. He asked that the city be held in contempt of court for not providing the proper records by Friday’s deadline.

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Today, Judge Griffen ordered the city to provide the photographs of all officers (except undercover officers) “with the name of each officer photographed” by 4 p.m. Friday. If the city fails to do this, a contempt hearing will be set, he said.

I’ve asked City Attorney Tom Carpenter about the city’s seeming failure to include names in digital files provided to Racop. The lawsuit named Chief Kenton Buckner, who reversed a policy allowing release of officer photos because of Racop’s use of them in blog posts about complaints against the police department. The city acknowledged the difficulty of claiming exemption from the FOI given that the department frequently uses the photos itself on social media and for other purposes.

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UPDATE: Carpenter responded by email that the city had responded in the manner Racop had requested and noted that an example of what he sought attached to his suit showed photos of officers without names.

UPDATE II: It now appears that the city will resist providing photos with officers’ names, apparently under the contention that no such record exists. Racop provided a copy of an email from Carpenter.

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Racop responded:

You know very well the LRPD stores officer photos under their names on both ID photos and the studio like photos. The proof of that was included in an earlier email to you and in my Amended Motion. Keep this up and you, your deputies and Buckner will likely end up jailed for contempt and I will seek charged for tampering with a public record. I will not be Skrabled.

Skrabled is a reference to Luke Skrable, a critic of city government that the city got banned from City Hall for 42 months over an allegation that he’d threatened the city manager because of an inability to be heard on city services in his neighborhood.

The city’s resistance is absurd. As Racop notes, there’s a “yearbook” for the LRPD that has pictures and names of all officers. He also says the city maintains a file of photos with names so no record would have to be created to fulfill his request.

UPDATE III: Now comes this word on the city’s position in an e-mail to Racop:

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From: Hogan, Rick
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2018 4:07 PM
To: ‘russracop@att.net’ ; ‘Shannon Robinson’
Cc: Mann, Bill ; Wisdom, Debbie
Subject: RE: Racop v Buckner

Shannon, the City is working to comply with the Court’s Order issued today. Unless instructed otherwise by the Board or the City Manager, the photos with the names will be available tomorrow. The referenced email below [the one I reproduced above] is not the current status of our position. Thank you, Rick

Rick D. Hogan, JD, MPH
Deputy City Attorney