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PR 15-38 Access/Rhode Island v. Rhode Island State Police 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. In this case, Access/Rhode Island alleged that the State Police failed to respond in a timely manner to two (2) MuckRock APRA requests. The first sought adult arrest log records delineated within R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3.2, which in pertinent part, requires that such records "shall be made available 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." Construing the evidence in the light least-favorable to the State Police, the evidence demonstrated that MuckRock made an in-person APRA request on May 19, 2014 and the State Police provided a mailed response (at MuckRock's request) on May 21, 2014. Although Access/Rhode Island contends that the State Police envelope was postmarked May 23, 2014, no evidence was presented to support this argument, including but not limited to the postmarked envelope. The State Police violated the APRA when it failed to timely respond to MuckRock's APRA request for other arrest log information. In particular, the evidence established that after receiving MuckRock's APRA request on June 9, 2014, the State Police responded on June 20, 2014 by requiring prepayment. This period of time nine (9) business days was a timely response and tolled the time for the State Police to respond pending pre-payment. See R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-7(b)("the production of records shall not be deemed untimely if the public body is awaiting receipt of payment for costs properly charged under 38-2-4"). On June 30, 2014, MuckRock provided pre-payment, and the time for the State Police to timely respond within ten (10) business days nine (9) of which had already expired once again began to expire. While the State Police argued that the ten (10) business days started anew upon MuckRock's June 30, 2014 pre-payment, no authority supported this position and instead, the time that had been tolled effective June 20, 2014 once again began to run effective June 30, 2014. Accordingly, the ten (10) business day period expired one (1) day after MuckRock provided its payment. The State Police did provide the requested documents.

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