1.1 This General Order constitutes the Public Records Policy of the Blount County Emergency Communications District ("Blount County ECD") pursuant to TCA §10-7-503 to provide economical and efficient access to public records as provided under the Tennessee Public Records Act ("TPRA") in TCA §10-7-501, et seq. This policy is available for inspection and duplication in the office of the Director of the Blount County ECD located at 1431 William Blount Drive, Maryville TN 37801.
1.2 The TPRA provides that subject to legal limitation Blount County ECD records shall, at all times during the regular business office hours, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such a right of inspection to any citizen of this state, unless otherwise provided by state law. See TCA §10-7-503(1)(2)(A). Accordingly, the public records of Blount County ECD are presumed to be open for inspection unless otherwise provided by law.
1.3 Authorized Blount County ECD personnel shall timely and efficiently provide access and assistance to persons requesting to view or receive copies of public records. No provision of this policy shall be used to hinder access to open public records. However, the integrity and organization of public records, as well as the efficient and safe operation of the Blount County ECD, shall be protected as provided by current law. Concerns about this policy should be addressed to the Blount County ECD Public Records Request Coordinator ("PRRC") or to the Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel ("OORC").
1.4 All radio and telephone communications of the dispatch function are recorded to digital audiotape 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The communications center also has the capability of immediate playback of recorded telephone and radio conversations while a continuous recording of radio and telephone transmissions is maintained. Archived recordings will be kept on file for a minimum of one year and shall be available for review in accordance with the below procedures. Recordings will be maintained on a password protected computer.
2.1 Records Custodian: The office, official or employee lawfully responsible for the direct custody and care of a public record. See TCA §10-7-503(a)(1)(C). The records custodian is not necessarily the original preparer or receiver of the record. The PRRC can also be a Records Custodian.
2.2 Public Records: All documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, films, sound recordings, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency. See TCA §10-7-503(a)(1)(A).
2.3 Public Records Request Coordinator: The individual, or individuals, designated in this policy that has, or have, the responsibility to ensure public record requests are fulfilled in accordance with the TPRA. See TCA §10-7-503(a)(1)(B).
2.4 Requestor: A person seeking access to a public record, whether it is for inspection or duplication.
3. REQUESTING ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS
3.1 Public record requests shall be made to the PRRC or his/her designee in order to ensure public record requests are routed to the correct records custodian and fulfilled in a timely manner.
3.2 Requests for inspection only cannot be required to be made in writing. The PRRC may request a mailing (or email) address from the requestor for providing any written communication required under the TPRA.
3.3 Requests for inspection may be made orally, in person, or in writing using the Public Records Request Form (Form 911-043), at the Blount County Emergency Communication District, 1431 William Blount Drive, Maryville, TN 37801, via fax at 865-981-7107, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 865-981-7108.
3.4 Requests for copies, or requests for inspection and copies, shall be made in writing using the Public Records Request Form (Form 911-043), sent to the Blount County Emergency Communication District, 1431 William Blount Drive, Maryville, TN 37801 which may be transmitted by mail, facsimile transmission or e-mail as stated above.
3.5 Proof of Tennessee citizenship by presentation of a valid Tennessee driver's license (or alternative acceptable form of government issued ID) is required as a condition to inspect or receive copies of public records, unless a non-resident requestor is a named party in the public record being requested. A copy of the license or ID will not be kept by Blount County Emergency Communication District.
4. RESPONDING TO PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS
4.1 Public Record Request Coordinator
4.1.1 The PRRC shall review public record requests and make an initial determination of the following:
a. If the requestor provided evidence of Tennessee citizenship
b. If the records requested are described with sufficient specificity to identify them; and
c. If the Blount County ECD is the custodian of the records.
4.1.2 The PRRC shall acknowledge receipt of the request and take any of the following appropriate action(s):
a. Advise the requester of this Policy and the elections made regarding:
1. Proof of Tennessee citizenship;
2. Form(s) required for copies;
3. Fees (and labor threshold and waivers, if applicable); and
4. Aggregation of multiple or frequent requests.
b. If appropriate, deny the request in writing, providing the appropriate ground such as one of the following:
1. The requester is not, or has not, presented evidence of being a Tennessee citizen.
2. The request lacks specificity (offer to assist in clarification).
3. An exemption makes the record not subject to disclosure under the TPRA. (Provide the exemption in written denial)
4. Blount County ECD is not the custodian of the requested records.
5. The records do not exist.
c. If appropriate, contact the requestor to see if the request can be narrowed.
d. Forward the records request to the appropriate records custodian at Blount County ECD.
e. If requested records are in the custody of a different governmental entity, and the PRRC knows the correct governmental entity, advise the requestor of the correct governmental entity and PRRC for that entity if known.
4.1.3 The designated PRRC is the Blount County ECD Director, 1431 William Blount Drive, Maryville TN 37801: phone 865-981-7108; fax 865-981-7107; email email@example.com.
4.1.4 The PRRC shall report to the Chairman of the Board of Directors on an annual basis about Blount County ECD compliance with the TPRA pursuant to this Policy and shall make recommendations, if any, for improvement or changes to this policy.
4.2 Release of Information by Blount County ECD Employees
4.2.1 Information released to agencies served by Blount County ECD, or other agencies will be limited to that information that is a part of daily operations, and assistance that is provided by BCECD. Private matters, such as disciplinary proceedings against members of other agencies will not be disseminated.
4.2.2 Information disseminated to the public will be limited to guidance and assistance pertaining to general call handling and dispatching procedures and requests for assistance. Agency sensitive information of any type, or information regarding any secretive operations, or information regarding any ongoing investigation BCECD personnel may be familiar with will not be shared with the public. Those requesting such information will be referred to the appropriate agency. This also includes any NCIC/TIES activities personnel may be involved in such as criminal history information, or other information, if there is the possibility the release of which would violate NCIC/TIES policies and procedures. The inappropriate or accidental release of information could jeopardize investigations and hold agency members up to public review or ridicule, and denotes unprofessionalism and could be a source of liability.
4.2.3 Information disseminated over open frequencies used by Blount County ECD personnel will be limited to information required for the purpose of dispatching calls to field units and responding to their request for information.
4.3 Record Custodian
4.3.1 Upon receiving a public records request, a records custodian shall promptly make the requested public records available in accordance with TCA §10-7-503. If the records custodian is uncertain that an applicable exemption applies, the custodian may consult with the PRRC, counsel, or the OORC.
4.3.2 If not practicable to promptly provide the requested records because additional time is necessary to determine whether the requested records exist; to search for, retrieve, or otherwise gain access to records; to determine whether the records are open; to redact records; or for other similar reasons, then a records custodian shall, within seven (7) business days from the records custodian's receipt of the request, send the requestor a completed Public Records Request Response Form (Form 911-044) based on the form developed by the OORC.
4.3.3 If a records custodian denies a public records request, he or she shall deny the request in writing using the Public Records Response Form (Form 911-044).
4.3.4 If a records custodian discovers records responsive to a records request were omitted, the records custodian should contact the requestor concerning the omission and produce the records as quickly as possible.
4.4.1 If a record contains confidential information or information that is not open for public inspection, the records custodian shall prepare a redacted copy prior to providing access. If questions arise concerning redaction, the records custodian should coordinate with counsel or other appropriate parties regarding review and redaction of records. The records custodian may also consult with the OORC.
4.4.2 Whenever a redacted record is provided, the requestor should be informed of the basis for redaction. The basis given for redaction shall be general in nature and not disclose confidential information.
4.5 Release of Juvenile Records
As stipulated in TCA §37-1-154, juvenile records may be open to public inspection only under the following conditions:
4.5.1 A charge of delinquency is transferred for criminal prosecution under TCA §37-1-134.
4.5.2 The interest of national security requires it.
4.5.3 A court orders the juvenile records opened for inspection in the best interest of the child.
4.6 Other Restrictions on the Release of Certain Other Records
4.6.1 All records concerning reports of child sexual abuse shall not be disclosed per TCA §37-1-612(a).
4.6.2 All reports and the identity of persons filing reports concerning statutory rape shall not be disclosed per TCA §38-1-304.
4.6.3 Investigative files for pending or contemplated criminal action are not subject to public release per Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure (The Tennessean et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County et al., 485 S.W.3rd 857 (Tenn. 2016)).
4.6.4 All contingency plans of law enforcement agencies prepared to respond to or prevent any violent incident, bomb threat, ongoing act of violence at a school or business, ongoing act of violence at a place of public gathering, threat involving a weapon of mass destruction, or terrorist incident, shall not be open to inspection per TCA §10-7-503(e) and TCA §10-7-504(a)(21)(A)(ii).
4.6.5 Unpublished telephone numbers shall not be open to the public but shall be made available upon written request to the County Election Commission. See TCA §10-7-504(E).
4.6.6 Any other records that are exempted from production under the TPRA will not be produced. See TCA §10-7-504.
5. INSPECTION OF RECORDS
5.1 There shall be no charge for inspection of open public records.
5.2 The location for inspection of records within the Blount Count ECD offices should be determined by the PRRC.
5.3 Under reasonable circumstances, the PRRC may require an appointment for inspection or may require inspection of records at an alternate location.
6. COPIES OF RECORDS
6.1 The PRRC shall promptly respond to a public record request for copies in the most economic and efficient manner practicable.
6.2 Copies will be available for pickup at the Blount County ECD Office.
6.3 Requestors will not be allowed to make copies of records with personal equipment. To ensure the integrity of the Blount County ECD computer systems, the use of requestor-supplied digital media of all types (i.e. DVDs, thumb drives, external hard drives, etc.), and, the direct connection of a requestor's computer device via any means to Blount County ECD equipment, are strictly prohibited.
7. FEES AND CHARGES AND PROCEDURES FOR BILLING AND PAYMENT
7.1 No charges will be assessed for copies and duplicates unless such costs exceed $2.00. Fees and charges for copies of public records will not be used to hinder access to public records.
7.2 The PRRC or Records Custodian shall provide requesters with an itemized estimate of the charges using the Public Records Request Response Form prior to producing copies of records and may require pre-payment of such charges before producing requested records.
7.3 When fees for copies and labor do not exceed $2.00, the fees may be waived. Requests for waivers for fees above $2.00 must be presented to the PRRC, who is authorized to determine if such waiver is in the best interest of the Blount County ECD and for the public good. Fees associated with aggregated records requests will not be waived.
7.4 Fees and charges for copies are as follows:
• $0.15 per page for letter- and legal-size black and white copies.
• $0.50 per page for letter- and legal-size color copies.
• Actual costs of audio disks, digital disks, and other materials.
• Labor when time exceeds one hour.
• $20.00 per audio recording of telephone or radio transmissions. This fee includes the cost of labor.
• Payment is to be made in cash or by personal check payable to the Blount County ECD and presented to the PRRC.
8. AGGREGATION OF FREQUENT AND MULTIPLE REQUESTS
8.1 The Blount County ECD will aggregate record requests in accordance with the Frequent and Multiple Request Policy promulgated by the OORC when more than four requests are recieved within a calender month (either from a single individual or a group of individuals deemed working in concert).
8.2 The PRRC is responsible for making the determination that a group of individuals are working in concert. The PRRC or the records custodian must inform the individuals that they have been deemed to be working in concert and that they have the right to appeal the decision to the OORC.
All recorded records, written request and subpoenas are to be retained for a minimum of one year. When an incident is pending or may still be in litigation, all related documentation shall be maintained until the legal process has been concluded if the PRRC is made aware of the incident or pending litigation.
10. RECORDS PRIVACY AND SECURITY PRECAUTIONS
All personnel files will be kept in the Director's office.
The National Crime Information Center, Tennessee Crime Information Center, and the Tennessee Information Enforcement System have very specific rules and protocols for the release and security of the information in these systems. The Blount County ECD will strictly adhere to these rules and protocols regarding the information they have access to in these systems.
Information released to agencies served by the Blount County ECD, or other agencies will be limited to that information that is a part of daily operations, and assistance that is provided by the communications center.