Thursday, August 28, 2014

Struggle to get records from MCSD

On July 13, 2014, I filed a FOIA request with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for the reports in the domestic violence call involving Deputy Jennifer Asplund.

When no response was forthcoming, I filed a Request for Review with the Attorney General's Public Access Bureau (PAB). When the PAB contacted MCSD, it was told that MCSD had never received my request.

But the County I.T. Department did receive it, and they could have cleansed the email of any "threat" it contained and forwarded it to MCSD. Instead, they quarantined it and then purged it.

How strange, to me, that this one email from me would contain what they referred to as a "serious threat" (to the email system).

So I re-submitted my request by email, with copies to Undersheriff Zinke, Cmdr. Cedergren and the I.T. guy, asking them to confirm receipt by the FOIA Officer and to let me know that MCSD had received it. Do you think that one of them could have had the courtesy to send me a short email? Not one of them did.

I had to telephone the MCSD Records Division, where an employee told me that my re-submitted email had been received.  I'm not really sure that MCSD knows who its FOIA Officer is. Is it Duane Cedergren? Sgt. Decman? Somebody else? The employee didn't seem to know.

When Mrs. Weech was the FOIA Officer, everybody knew it. No employees pretended to be "the" FOIA officer or "one of them". There is only one. That "one" may have assistants, but there is only one FOIA Officer.

When MCSD responded, it sent me an embarrassing example of a FOIA response, which prompted a request to the PAB for further review. Lines and lines of the reports were redacted. Not just a few words or a few lines. So many lines were redacted that you can't tell what happened.

So the PAB will take another shot at MCSD, and I suspect an Assistant Attorney General will tell MCSD to provide the narrative reports almost in full. Certain limited data can be redacted, but not wholesale blocks of the report.

So, stand by. In the meantime, I may figure out how to publish .pdf pages and show you how MCSD handled this request. Or maybe I'll wait for the PAB to do its magic, and then I'll show you the before and after versions of the response.

Here's what one reader had to say after a recent article on this MCSD call: "Yes, an arrest should have been/will be made. Where I work this deputy would have been arrested, stripped of police powers and placed in a unit called Call Back until resolved."

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