Restaino Announces New Process for Police Incident Reports to be Released to Media Outlets

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By: Staff Reporter

Mayor Robert M. Restaino released the following statement regarding a new process for allowing media outlets access to police incident reports. The Niagara Reporter was the first news publication to bring to light that Restaino’s administration had stopped a decades-old practice of sending out daily reports. The full statement from Restaino is below:

I would like to provide a report on our effort to update the process for transmission of police incident reports to the media. After careful consideration of all the necessary aspects of the process, various staff meetings to provide a complete review of the balancing interests and addressing possible budget concerns, our administration has updated the decades-old process of providing police incident report information to media outlets—a process that operates outside of the standard statutory procedure under the NYS Public Officers Law, commonly known as the Freedom of Information Law or FOIL.

The updates to the process will provide for the protection of victims and witnesses, as is required by law and which is the obligation of the provider of the records. While no one in this administration is presuming bad conduct on the part of the media, it is simply not the responsibility of the media to protect that information, and while a breach of that protection, prior to my term as mayor, did occur causing private information to be published by a media outlet, our administration believes that the media is generally sensitive to the privacy rights of individuals as well.  That is why we believe that all involved—government, media, and the residents of the City will be satisfied that these common-sense updates to the process will provide protection where required, allow for the public to receive information, and address the expedited method with which the media, in our opinion, was principally concerned.

The process will track the language of the NYS FOIL Act in terms of excepted or redacted information—no new process is being invented as the State law provides an excellent framework. This framework will now be implemented on the incident reports—as it should have been since inception of the process of transmitting the incident report decades ago.

While the solution may seem simple and the time to get there may have seemed long, it was important that the effort to fix the problem did not create other issues—administratively, budgetary, or otherwise. As always our administration continues to be committed to transparency as it is the only method for the public to know that the “playing field is level” and that government is working for the people. We appreciate the work of the media in getting our message out to the public and believe that the updated process will continue that effort.

Thank you for your concern and support of our City.

 


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