Friday, November 13, 2020
Credit: Milan Kovacevic
San Diego had been posting internal records from the police department online for about a year, but that was shut down Monday when officials accidentally published a document with confidential information about a crime victim.
San Diego police Capt. Jeffrey Jordon said the department made a mistake, and the website NextRequest where the documents are available won’t let the department take down the one incriminating document, so they had to take everything down temporarily. He’s unsure when the records will be accessible again, and said the department is considering switching all the documents to a different platform.
Police departments are required to release internal reports when their officers are investigated for shootings or use of force resulting in great bodily injury, or when they’re found to have committed sexual assault or lied during an investigation under California law SB 1421.
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In San Diego, those records have been doled out through one specific portal, but the request link has been disabled until further notice. Jordon said the department took the records down after a journalist of “high integrity” flagged the released information and notified the department. He wouldn’t say who that journalist was.
“We immediately had to respond — they were right,” Jordon said. “It was information that requires special protection under the law. In order for us to protect that information, we had to take the NextRequest file where we had the 1,421 documents offline until we can remove that information and properly redact it to put it back online.”
NextRequest, a public records portal city officials use to release requested documents, has been the go-to for San Diego officials to publish records requested under the California Public Records Act since 2016. Taking down one file to redact and republish was not an option, according to Jordon.
In order for officials to fix the problem, he said the entire request — which already had published dozens of internal investigations — needed to be disabled to protect the compromised information.
NextRequest did not respond for comment before deadline.
Jordon also said the department is looking into re-publishing the police investigation documents under a different host.
“I’m hoping it leads to an enhanced result going forward that recognizes the limitations of our current records publication system,” Jordon said.
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