FOIA Advisor

Q&A: Attention Ponch and Jon

Q&A (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.  I submitted requests to the California Highway Patrol for video records and received the following response:  "As your request relates to item 2, the PRU has determined it possesses the record sought; however, your request does not describe an item which falls within the definition of public records pursuant to Government Code section 6254(e).  Moreover, assuming the item requested did constitute a public record, an exemption applies pursuant to government code section 6254(k) as it relates to Penal Code 1054 subdivision (e) and the record is being withheld." 

I have never encountered such a claim before, and despite a fair bit of research I don't understand what CHP is claiming. The video record is from a helicopter camera and it captures the end of a police chase. There is a ground-based dash camera video record capturing the same chase. CHP did not claim any exemptions for that video and they intend to release it.

A.  I have not found a California court decision that has considered an agency's use of Penal Code 1054(e), in conjunction with 6254(k), as the basis for withholding records requested under the Public Records Act.  For further assistance, you might wish to contact an attorney licensed in the State of California.  Although I cannot endorse any particular attorney or organization, I will note that the First Amendment Coalition, a non-profit organization in San Rafael, California, frequently fields questions about the PRA.