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Still More Ask A Cops: Jobs, Runaways, Neighborhood Watch, Burglaries July 24, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Ask A Cop, Crime Prevention.
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Q: I just got home from a 4-day weekend. I noticed that when I opened my screen door that a straw fell on the ground. It was bent as though it had been in there for some time. My house was robbed about 3-4 months ago and I fear that we are being targeted again. Should I report this so a police report can be filled out, or wait and see if it appears again?

A: As there was no damage or otherwise attempt with force being used, we would not take an official report in this case. If a burglary attempt is made (door kick, smashed window, etc>) we encourage reporting for documenting crime trends and tracking purposes, even if no actual loss occurred.

Q: Are South Bend police officers allowed to have well groomed beards, goatees, or any other facial hair?

A: The only facial hair officers are permitted is a neatly groomed mustache.

Q: I was medically separated from the U.S. Army. The reason for the separation is that I was experiencing knee pain, mostly from constant running and carrying lots of heavy gear, and because my job was combat arms they could not keep me. I do still occasionally experience stiff or sore knees but not like I did in the military. My question is if I can run, do pushups, do situps, and pass the agility test for the academy do you think I would have any problems going through the hiring process? I think an x-ray I had done some time ago did show that I have some onset osteoarthritis in one ore both of my knees. Would this disqualify me? Thanks.

A: Our physical fitness standards for hiring are the same as Indiana Law Enforcement Academy standards. If you can pass the physical agility testing process you should be able to go through the hiring process otherwise. Prior to final conditional offer there is a physical which must be taken, and a final determination can be made, but it sounds like you should be able to compete in the process. Good luck!

Q: If you are arrested but the charges are dismissed, why does the arrest still show up on your background checks? This is from an incident about 3 years ago and i have had several employers ask about it and have been denied employment.

A: If no charges were made in an arrest as an adult, that does not negate the actual incident that led to the arrest. As such, even if no criminal charges were filed, that does not mean the incident for which you were arrested is no longer counted as an actual arrest on your criminal history, and it will stay a part of your permanent record.

Q: In this past Sunday’s newspaper it showed a home burglary on our street on the map that is in every week. Wondered how I could find out the particulars of that incident, so that we could be more alert. Thank you.

A: You may want to call and find out about Neighborhood Watch program in your area. These are available in most areas of the city. You can receive alerts via phone, and also information pertaining to your neighborhood area is disseminated at monthly meetings for your area. Link is here.

Q: I have a girlfriend who is 16- she is having problems with her parents.They tell her to leave the house and I believe mistreat her. She cant take it anymore she wants to runaway can you help us please?

A: A great resource she can look into is the Youth Service Bureau here in South Bend. They offer family services for at risk teens, runaways, or for mediating between teens who are facing a choice of running away, and work with teens and parents to encourage a resolution to the conflict in the home. Also their Street Outreach provides education and prevention services to runaway, homeless and street youth who are subjected to or at risk of sexual exploitation. For youth in need of support and services, Street Outreach workers are available to assess needs, assist with accessing referral services, provide shelter through Safe Station or elsewhere, and support their efforts to reconnect to the community.

Also, The Youth and Family Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer support to youth and families in need. Professionally trained counselors provide assistance during difficult times, including crisis management and referral services to other community resources. (574) 235-9396 or (866) 460-4616.

(574) 235-9396 ~ (866) 460-4616


Ask A Cops June 28, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Ask A Cop.
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Q: I have a License to carry handgun permit and I do carry quite often. Many people have stated to me that open carry is illegal and all handguns must be registered. I have found no evidence of these things online and while asking questions to local firearms dealers who either state they “cannot interpret the law for me,” or they tell me, “Indiana is mute and has no law on the subject of open carry thus making it legal.” And I’ve been told Indiana does not require registration and it’s actually illegal to register a handgun in Indiana. It seems I do know the answer here but can you back it up for me? Open carry is not illegal and firearms need not be registered? Thank you.

A: You are correct. Indiana laws do not require “registration” of firearms owned by an individual. A weapons carry permit is required to possess weapons outside an individual’s residence, and IN law does not prohibit “open carry” of weapons by statue, however, common sense and discretion of weapons carrying is strongly recommended for everyone’s safety.

Q: My street has no curb and people are parking on the grass down the street from our front door. Is this okay, or should they stop? I understand the the business nearby has limited parking area, but we have been trying to get our yard to look nice.

A: There is no specific reference I could find by city code, but Indiana Code on parking states: ” a vehicle stopped or parked upon a roadway where there is an adjacent curb must be stopped or parked with the right-hand wheels of the vehicle parallel with and within twelve (12) inches of the right-hand curb.” Where there is no actual curb, a general guideline should be to use the road edge/grass line as the “curb line”. If parking is coming from employees of the business you mention, I would suggest speaking to the management to help alleviate the issue.

NOTE: I initially was not going to publish this following question, however upon further thought I feel it is important for others who may be in this situation to receive the answer to the question.
Q: I filed a complaint against my husband for slapping me. I don’t want it to go to the prosecutors office because he is an amazing father and I feel like I pushed his buttons this morning. How do I stop the report from going anywhere?

A: As a victim you do have the right to not choose to seek prosecution of your suspect husband. I would advise to speak to victim counselors from our Family Violence Unit or from the YWCa before making this kind of a decision, to fully understand your rights, the cycle of domestic abuse, and for safety reasons for you and your family as a whole, so you can make an informed decision and understand repercussions first. In many cases, if charges are filed, this may not result in incarceration, but certainly would benefit the abuser to be able to get court ordered counseling. Even if you are separated , “dropping your case” changes nothing and a next victim could be harmed more seriously or even killed. Think: if the abuser gets no help how will he get over his tendencies towards violence? Also please see our domestic violence information in detail here.

Ask A Cops! June 22, 2010

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Q: Is there any law on the books currently or pending prohibiting animals on the laps on drivers of automobiles? I see this practice increasing with time and I would imagine that the public safety issue that it raises is an important one with regard to reaction times compromised and the animals being startled on the lap of the driver. I have inquired to State Senator Broden’s office about this topic, but have never heard back from his office.

A: Aside from being a distracting and potentially dangerous driving practice, there is currently no state law prohibiting such a practice.

Q: Is there any police involvement when a child is 16 yrs old and in high school but refuses to attend school. If none, any suggestions on who we can contact for help in this matter.

A: I would suggest working with your child’s school leadership, the School Resource Officer assigned to your school, and possible contacting the Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) to speak to staff about completing an “Ungovernable Juvenile: report with the JJC for further follow up.

Q: People come to my house, sometimes as late as midnight, asking for money in exchange for yard cleanup work. When I
tell them no, they’re extremely persistent. I find this disturbing. Should I be calling the police about these people? I don’t want to just call for annoyances, but this creeps me out more than a little bit. What’s the best course of action?

A: Common sense should signal you that a person looking for “work” after dark is likely not a legitimate offer. Often times burglars are casing places by knocking , especially at ‘odd’ hours, to see patterns, such as who is home, if pets are present, routines, the person who answers the door, and possibly to catch a glimpse of what’s inside if you open the door. I suggest to avoid answering the door at all, and refrain from opening the door. If you choose to call the police about this type of suspicious activity, please call our non emergency number (235-9361) to report, and try to obtain a good description of the person or any vehicles that may be involved for officers to make the best attempt to investigate.

Ask A Cops! May 12, 2010

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Q: My dad and I were driving downtown today and I saw a “CVO” car with red and blue lights on it. My dad didn’t believe me and said that only NEST and regular marked patrol cars have blue and red lights. Do CVO’s have blue and red light on them?

A: Yes our CVO (Civilian Volunteer Officers) patrol cars do have red and blue lights, which by the rules of the CVO program are allowed to be used only when the vehicle is parked and stationary. The primary duties of CVOs in this case are for controlling and directing traffic, and for purposes of Indiana Law require red and blue lights designating them able to do so. CVOs to not perform traffic stops or other criminal enforcement.

Q: If my dog gets out of my yard and into the street,I was told that I could be liable for damages to someone’s vehicle if he were to get hit due to the leash law in St. Joe county. Is this true? I can find references to a leash law in news stories,
but cannot find the actual ordinance anywhere.

A: By city law ordinance, owners must restrain their pets at all times, and failure to do so could put you liable for civil penalties or damage claims. More info on the city Animal Control website here.

Q: Is there anything I can do, legally/in general, to stop my neighbor from driving through my backyard. She can access her backyard through the same alley, it’s just easier to drive across my lawn in her opinion. I’ve talked to her about it multiple times and she ignores me.

A: You may be able to fence or partition your property off with some means of fencing, cable, or other obstruction that would prevent a vehicle from being driven past it on your property. You may also want to contact an attorney for further civil remedy advice, as it is not a criminal matter police can enforce. The Lawyer Referral Program of the St. Joseph County Bar Association is an attorney referral program that places clients in need of services with an attorney suited to meet their legal needs. When you inquire about a referral you will need to explain the particular area of law, or the circumstances of the situation that prompts you to seek an attorney. Call 574.235.9657 or visit their web site for additional information.

Q: Are people with burglar alarms required to register them with the South Bend Police Department?

A: No. More information on the city alarm ordinance and w word about police response to alarms is covered here.

Q: I was arrested in 1999 and charged with domestic battery. I took a plea agreement for misdemeanor battery and completed a course of anger management as well. Due to this charge I am not able to obtain employment through the prison or police systems. Can I get a petition to restore my firearms rights and if the courts granted it would I be able to get a position in either prisons or local police depts.? What can I do to become weapon certifiable again and have the right to possess firearms?

A: Conviction of Domestic Battery by Indiana Law (and true of most other states as well) will preclude you from obtaining employment in law enforcement and to have a weapons carry permit or to possess, as defined in IC 35-47-2-1

Carrying a handgun without a license or by person convicted of domestic battery
35-47-2-1 Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b) and section 2 of this
chapter, a person shall not carry a handgun in any vehicle or on or about the person’s
body, except in the person’s dwelling, on the person’s property or fixed place of
business, without a license issued under this chapter being in the person’s possession.
(b) Unless the person’s right to possess a firearm has been restored under IC 3-7-13-
5 or IC 33-28-4-8, a person who has been convicted of domestic battery under IC 35-
42-2-1.3 may not possess or carry a handgun in any vehicle or on or about the person’s
body in the person’s dwelling or on the person’s property or fixed place of business.

Q: Is it legal in the state of Indiana to modify a 49cc moped and it still be street legal?

A: Modifying being a generic term I assume you are meaning to create more power, etc. With that said that would change the bike from a “motorized bicycle”/moped designation to that of a “motorcycle” by IN law which would require licensing. As such, When a scooter is considered a motorcycle:
(1)When it is rated at more than 2HP; and
(2)When it has more than 50cc; and
(3)When the designed speed is greater than 25MPH.

If this is the case in the latter example, then it is considered a motorcycle
(i) Drivers and passengers under 18 must wear head and eye protection;
(ii) Drivers must have with them a valid motorcycle endorsement or motorcycle learners permit;
(iii) The vehicle must be registered (license plates) and insured;
(iv)All other motor vehicle laws apply;
(v) It may be driven by no more than 2 side by side in a single lane.

Q: I live with two friends who both have a felony conviction. If I got my gun permit and it was an issue, if the police asked ask me if anybody had a felony and I said yes would they go to jail because of their felony?

A: Persons with a felony conviction are prohibited from possessing firearms, so it would depend upon the circumstances, however it would be your responsibility as a gun owner to take steps that the gun would be secured at home, or only in your immediate possession. If they would not be deemed as having access to the weapon, then it would not likely be confiscated or persons arrested for “possession” if they did not have access to it in the house, as an example.

I need to renew my concealed carry permit because I have recently moved from Elkhart to South Bend. Where do I need to go to renew?

A: If you live within the city of South Bend limits (3 or 4 digit address) then you would need to stop by the Records office in the lobby of the station, at 701 W Sample between 8am-6pm, Mon-Friday. State Handgun Permit Applications are currently: $10.00 (4-year) $50.00 for lifetime permit.

Monday Ask A Cops! April 12, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Ask A Cop.
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Q: My temporary plate was stolen and I was told you will not take a report? What can be done?

A: Temporary 30 day plates issued by the BMV have a number which for several reasons cannot be listed into a national database like NCIC, nor are the serial numbers easily tracked by BMV to be able to trace plates and the routing of them like ‘standard’ license plates. Also by IN law, Dealers may not legally re-issue a temporary plate if stolen.

Sadly if this is the case, the time remaining on a temporary plate is lost and replacement plates of the standard metal type must be purchased to be able to legally operate or park your vehicle on streets.

Many dealers now are doing a good thing by writing the descriptions of the vehicle (i.e.” 2006 Black Saturn VUE”) on the plate margins when you purchase the vehicle. This is a good deterrent, and also helps police identify the plates as being the proper one for the car in many cases. I suggested this be made a provision on the plates themselves as an official area on the plate similar to many other states. I emailed the BMV about this recently but did not receive a reply. As a reminder Temporary Plates are also subject to proper display laws, which also dictate they should be mounted where a normal plate would go, as they are required to be illuminated at night and properly affixed to the vehicle so as to be read and not obscured.

Q: In reference to registered sex offenders,is it written in the laws that they cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school,or residences that have children?

A: If the sex offender is convicted of a crime involving children, IC 35-42-4-11 covers residency restrictions, including:

An offender against children knowingly or intentionally may not:
(1) reside within one thousand (1,000) feet of:
(A) school property, not including property of an institution providing post-secondary education; (B) a youth program center; or (C) a public park

Good information on local sex offender registry is found at http://www.insor.org/insasoweb/, and the full criminal statutes HERE

Q: I was just wondering if you had any internship opportunities or what the best way for me to get into a police department?

A: We do not have long term internships, however several local colleges as part of their courses do have observations or limited internships as part of the course curriculum. If you are enrolled in criminal justice or law courses currently, ask your professor for more information. We offered a cadet program recently, but budget cuts have forced the suspension of this program. Good luck!

Q: My best friend is a police officer [with a different agency] and he advised me against carrying loaded/chambered because it is illegal. I have read the IC guidelines exhaustively and can find no reference to such a law. What concerns me is that police officers are being told this law exists and will act on it. If such a law exists, where can I find it in the IC code.

A: Indiana Concealed Weapons Carry law makes no such reference to, or restrictions on carrying your weapons “chambered” or not. Your friend has erroneous information.

Q: I frequently commute to work via cycle. Today a dog ran out into the street at me and proceeded to chase me for several blocks. While the dog did not try to bite me, he did pose a threat to my safety by running right in front of me several times and nearly causing me to fall while traveling at fairly high speeds. My question is this – is pepper spray or dog spray legal in Indiana/South Bend? I feel now that I need some method of defense or deterrent – even “friendly” chasing dogs can pose serious hazards to cyclists (and themselves) if they get too close.

A: Good questions- which we actually mentioned on our Twitter page last week. There are no restrictions for carrying chemical spray, and if you jog or bike, it is a good idea to carry a small can of spray for instances like you mention, or to use to ward off in case of attack. I can tell you from experience that Chemical spray (also known as OC Spray) is HIGHLY effective in taking the fight out of people, effective against aggressive animals, and is easily handled by just about everyone. If you spend time outdoors, it would be a good investment that you can use with confidence.

Also if you have issues with aggressive dogs, call SB Animal Control to report aggressive dog offenses: 574.235.9303.

New Ask A Cops! March 17, 2010

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Hey everyone! Submissions into the Ask A Cop blog have been few and far between for a while, so I apologize for not publishing often!

To make up for it I’ll fire several off! Lets get started:

Q: If I apply for a permit to carry a handgun in South Bend, does that permit only allow me to carry it in South Bend or can you carry the hand gun outside of city limits as well and still be legal?

A: Weapons carry permits are issued by the agency in the locality you reside in (i.e. South Bend) but are good for statewide carry, as well as any state that has a compact agreement honoring an Indiana permit.

Q: I’m a disabled vet. There is a new neighbor that has moved across the street and parks in front of my home. It’s not that they have alot of cars, only two a truck and a car. and they park in front of my house. everyone parks in front of their own home. If theres an emergency I want to make sure they have no problem getting to me. What can be done. I have asked them to please not to park in front of my residence.

A: Contrary to popular opinion, on street parking is not restricted or otherwise “assigned” to the space in front of one’s home. As a result, there is no enforcement action to be taken for someone simply parking in front of “your” home. An exception is for Disabled parking, in which case you may petition the street department for a reserved Disabled space designation. This would preclude someone without a disabled parking sticker to be cited. You can download the information here.

Q: I am going to be turning eighteen in about a month and I am curious about the Cadet Officer Program.

A: Sadly the Cadet program has been disbanded from future openings due to budget constraints. You may be interested in attending our Citizens Police Academy to get more of an inside look, but no cadet job openings are open any longer.

Q: I have wanted to become a police officer since high school. I am finally pursuing it and have filled out my application and gathered all necessary documents. First question, is it better to turn it in in person or mail it? Second, are there specific times of the year they are accepting applicants and is this one of them?

A: Congratulations on pursuing your dream! I would suggest turning the application in in person to our Training Bureau because if mails and data is omitted or incomplete this may delay or result in your application being rejected. Turning in in person may alleviate this concern. Second, job openings dictate testing and hiring dates. Your application may be turned in anytime, and will be held, and you will be notified via mail when tryouts are planned.

Q: My girlfriend has worked at her job for about 2 years. The owner has been sexually harassing her and others for years. He has gotten worse lately with his approach. She needs a job and is affraid to say anything to him. What can she do?

A: Obviously sexual harassment in the workplace is unwelcome and is a violation of Federal Labor Laws. While not a criminal violation, there are civil penalties that could be levied against her employer. First, anyone in this situation must tell the harasser that the sexual harassment must stop. If it does not, seek assistance through an employer grievance procedure. Document all activity. The next step is to file charges promptly with the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office if harassment doesn’t stop. You can typically file charges in person, by phone or mail. Wait as EEOC investigators investigate allegations on a case-by-case basis.

Q: I own a small house in South Bend, at [omitted]. Some of the friends of neighbors and another person has told us that the 3 students living there are “druggies” and that the police come out there regularly. Is there any way that I can find out if any of this is true. I will evict the students if it is. If I have no way of finding out, I am evicting them anyways and selling the house.

A: As a landlord, you could be affected by the city “disorderly house” ordinance. You could try contacting our records bureau to see if there is in fact a history of calls to your rental house, and may be able to obtain more detailed information (see response below on steps). The City Attorney’s office also handles ordinance violations, you may contact them as well to see if your house has had significant issues.

Q: I am being harrased by some text messages. What shoud I do?

A: In most cases, contact your cell phone provider and report the problem. Many carriers can handle the filtering or blocking of unwanted messages/senders first, which will usually take care of the problem. A secondary step -while inconvenient- will also give you better results, which is to switch your number (again, usually done without charge under the circumstances). Just be careful who gets the new number to avoid the unwanted sender from getting the new number.

Q: I want a copy of a police report from 2002. I was not involved in this incident, I just know of it. Is it public record? Can I get a copy of that police report or is it too old. Can I get a copy of that police report even though I was not involved in that incident?

A: The answer is maybe. You would need to fill out a Public Records?FOIA request through the city attorney’s office which is reviewed and you will be notified if the request is approved or not. The report, if approved, may then be obtained for a nominal fee. Info on the process is here.

Thanks for reading- more next week, I promise!

Ask A Cop- Stun Gun Ordinance clarified January 4, 2010

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EDITORS NOTE: This is the first SBPD Ask A Cop post of 2010 and I mentioned a few days ago as the SBPD Blog attempts to go daily, I will have more time to answer a few more questions along with our news relases and features. As such, you will be seeing more questions answered more frequently!

Q: I am confused about the legality of stun guns within South Bend city limits. According to your “Ask A Cop” blog, any and all stun guns are illegal within South Bend, yet when I checked the ordinance cited in the response, it stated that all weapons which have a ” ‘charge that equals or does not exceed the equivalency of a five (5) milliamp sixty (60) hertz’ shall not be subject to these provisions and shall be governed by applicable state law.”

Exactly which state laws is the ordinance referring to? I went to in.gov, but was unable to find any state legislation concerning stun guns.

A: The IN.gov website does have this information. IC 35-47-8 covers the Regulation of Electronic Stun Weapons, Tasers, and Stun Guns by state statute. You can see it here.

Quick 3: Ask A Cop.. End of 2009! December 28, 2009

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Q: My husband is a Master Taser instructor and wants to purchase a C2 personal taser for me to carry for protection. We have recently heard that if you live in the city of South Bend that you cannot carry a personal taser. Is this true?

A: Correct. Possession of Stun Guns or Tasers is prohibited within South Bend City limits by city ordinance 14-36, which prohibits possession or ownership of ANY type of stun gun by any person, form or entity. Possession offense fines start at $250.00 for each offense/possession count, and will also result in permanent confiscation of the stun gun.

Q: How does an attorney obtain a recording of a 911 call and dispatch from police records? Phone number or address to place request.

A: Requests for public records re handled by the City’s Legal Department, which performs legal services for the City. The Department does not provide legal advice to members of the public. To request public records, you must fill out an Access to Public Records Request form. The request will be sent to the Legal Department to determine if the records requested are discloseable. Not all requests can be granted, some information is not discloseable under law. More info at our Records page.

Q: I live outside of the city, however can I report a drug dealer now (my husband), even though it was 15 years ago that he was the supplier to a local housing project there in South Bend?

A: This type of offense would by outside of the Statute of Limitations, therefore no action can be taken about this type of offense given the time lapse involved.

Quick 3: Ask A Cop December 8, 2009

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Q: Does the South Bend Police Department teach a D.A.R.E. program?

A: The SBPD DARE program is no longer offered in SBCSC schools. Budget and staffing issues eliminated the program approximately 9 years ago.

Q: I would like to know what trouble the city of South Bend and surrounding areas has ever had with biker gangs, clubs and
organizations. Some clubs have a negative stigma about them and have been linked to crimes in northern Indiana in the past.  I would like to note that this question doesn’t mean to generalize all biker gangs as trouble makers, because I know a lot of them out there are good people.

A: Locally the Hells Angels is the only outlaw biker club with an established local clubhouse.  There have not been any significant events with “outlaw” biker gangs in recent years.  It is said that many “outlaw” Motorcycle clubs (MC)s are known to be involved in many illegal criminal enterprises.  This can be true at times, however much of this is club and/or chapter dependent.

Q: What are certain restrictions on carrying a rifle/shotgun in a personal vehicle.  Can it be loaded, do you need a permit to have it loaded.  What is Indiana’s definition of “long gun?”

A: No state permit is required for the possession of a rifle or shotgun in Indiana. There is no specific law regulations on weapons being unloaded or not also.  It is unlawful to possess a firearm on school property, property used for a school function, or a school bus. (Note that this prohibition shall not apply to a person who may legally possesses a firearm and possess the firearm in a motor vehicle while transporting another person to or from school or a school function.)  Handguns are regulated by Weapons Carry permits issued through the IN State Police.

Ask A Cop- Obtaining Public Records/Photos December 4, 2009

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Been a slow couple of weeks with incoming Ask A Cops, but here is the most recent one I have!

Q: Due to the public information act isn’t it a law that information like arrest photos be available to be seen?  And how does one  go about getting that info?   Does S.B.P.D. try to put a charge on that since there isn’t a web site available?

A: Arrest photos are taken during the arrest process at and by the St Joseph County Police Jail division.  as such, those specific photos would have to be requested through the SJCPD.

Generally speaking, to obtain information, including photos or reports through the SBPD, any Public Records Requests are handled through the city Legal Department, using the following process:

To request public records, you must fill out an Access to Public Records Request form.

  • Submit this form to the Department having possession of the records.
  • The request will be sent to the Legal Department to determine if the records requested are discloseable.
  • Not all requests can be granted, some information is not discloseable under law