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PR 15-25 Access/Rhode Island v. West Greenwich Police Department Violation found

Even though Access/Rhode Island did not have standing to file this complaint, we reviewed this complaint consistent with this Department's independent statutory authority as described in West Warwick School Department, PR 15-23. Access/Rhode Island charged that the Police Department violated the APRA on four (4) occasions when it failed to respond in a timely manner to MuckRock's APRA requests. The evidence demonstrated that during the time in question, the Police Department was undergoing major communication upgrades and that its telecommunications system was interrupted. No evidence was produced that MuckRock's four (4) APRA requests sent by facsimile were ever received by the Police Department, and no facsimile confirmation was ever produced by MuckRock or Access/Rhode Island to support the Police Department's receipt of the facsimile APRA requests. See R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3(e)("[a] public body receiving a request shall permit the inspection or copying within ten (10) business days after receiving a request")(emphases added). Notwithstanding the lack of evidence supporting the receipt of a facsimile APRA request, because the Police Department did not rebut MuckRock's assertion that it had subsequently sent a follow-up e-mail APRA request after not having received an acknowledgment by facsimile this Department determined that the failure to timely respond to this follow-up e-mail APRA request violated the APRA. Additionally, even though the evidence established that the Police Department never received MuckRock's facsimile APRA request for certain delineated adult arrest log information, which according to R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3.2, must be provided within "forty-eight (48) hours after receipt of a request unless a request is made on a weekend or holiday, in which event the information shall be made available within seventy-two (72) hours," the evidence established that MuckRock's APRA request expressly requested such information be provided within "10 business days," thus waiving the time frame set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3.2. See Gallucci v. Brindamour, 477 A.2d 617, 618 (R.I. 1984)("Generally, a party or parties for whose benefit a right is provided by constitution, by statute, or by principles of common law may waive such right, regardless of the plain and unambiguous terms by which such right is expressed."). Such a waiver provided an independent basis for our conclusion that the Police Department did not violate the APRA when it failed to respond to a facsimile APRA request seeking certain delineated adult arrest log information.

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