According to an opinion from Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, the Bell County 911 Dispatch and Bell County Emergency Medical Services subverted the intent of the Open Records Act by imposing excessive copying fees for copies of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) reports and “landing zone” records to the Bell County Volunteer Fire Department (BCVFD).
The report stated that Bell County 911 Dispatch Supervisor Linda S. Wyatt charged BCVFD Chief David A. Miracle $5 per copy. She also stated there were 213 responsive CAD reports. The total amount charged was $1,065. Bell County EMS Director Josh Peters charged $5 per copy and stated there was a total of 80 records for landing zone documents. The total charge was $400.
Upon receipt of the responses from Wyatt and Peters, Miracle initiated an appeal challenging the imposition of excessive copying fees, according to the attorney general.
The opinion states Miracle requested access to all BCVFD CADs reports for the calendar year 2011 and for 2012 to present date, information from police reports from the sheriff’s office of all accidents with injury that the BCVFD responded to in the same time period, and information from EMS reports for all landing zones set up by the BCVFD at the request of EMS.
Miracle requested the information involving the landing zone include information such as parties involved, contact information as well as insurance providers and the contact information for them.
The attorney general document states each public agency responded by stating the requested records would be available within 30 days.
Bell County Attorney Neil Ward defended the $5 per report copying fee, according to the attorney general’s report. He explained Bell County Dispatch has approximately 213 reports that appear to meet the BCVFD’s criteria. In order to collect that information, Wyatt would have to pull up all two hundred thirteen (213) reports on the computer located in the dispatch office and print them out one at a time.
All the reports consist of multiple sheets. The printer that dispatch uses is a color-copy laser printer that is not designed for speed. It is also expensive. A printer cartridge costs $160. Dispatch estimates that the reports will generate will over 600 pages.
The attorney general document states Ward also defended the fee for the Bell County Ambulance Service. He stated it was necessary to sort through all the reports and find EMS reports for all landing zones set up by the BCVFD.
The EMS records are not categorized to generate that information. The Bell County EMS director had to manually pull all the run numbers. Then he turned the manually generated information over to the county’s billing agent to obtain the requested information.
Pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, all the health information had to be redacted before the reports could be generated. After two weeks, Bell County EMS received the 80 reports requested.
The Bell County Sheriff did not violate the Open Records Act by denying the request of accident reports based on the confidentiality provisions found in Kentucky Revised Statutes.
The attorney general stated the Bell County 911 Dispatch and EMS needs to recalculate the fee to reflect the actual costs of copying, not including staff costs.
Anthony Cloud can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.