Let me tell you short and sweet why we work so hard to get public information from the cops: It's so when you need it, you can get it.
Go read Minnesota Statute 13.82, then read the following narrative. You tell me: Was our chief law enforcement officer in the county violating the law?
Following are my emails with Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren Thursday, June 6, and Chief Deputy Kent Larson June 7:
Here's our exchange, beginning to end
From: Brett Larson [email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 06, 2013 7:17 AM
To: brent lindgren
Subject: a few things
1. Should I expect a news release about a bust on the north end yesterday?
2. I need two clarifications regarding underage drinking party:
Why wasn't the medical call to Bailey's house in the sheriff's report? Is there an ICR? If not, why not?
Why wasn't the deputy's visit to the Jude residence in the sheriff's report? Is there an ICR? If not, why not?
3. Please answers the following questions: (I don't believe the status of the investigation allows you to not answer, since it's basic public ICR-type data.)
Did the deputy knock on the door of the residence, or just attempt to call? If he knocked, was it answered? Who did he talk to and what did he learn?
If not, why not? Given the seriousness of the situation, should he have?
Was his "attempt" to call successful? If so, who answered and what did he learn? If not, why not? Was no one home? Did it go straight to voicemail?
4. I still want a transcript of the 911 call. Please let me know the cost.
Brett Larson, editor
Mille Lacs Messenger
PO Box 26
Isle, MN 56342
On Jun 6, 2013, at 10:54 AM, brent lindgren wrote:
Brett, we will try to get a press release to you on the search warrant in Vineland later today. the Medical ICR is the only Sheriff's Office ICR, the trip out to the foreston residence is in follow up to the medical as indicated in the press release. Since the Attorneys office and Police officers have access to the records system, only those assigned to the case were given access to the file to maintain its intergity since we conflicted it out to another agency for investigation.
From the press release: "The Deputy........ attempted calling into the residence, making contact with a homeowner advising them of why the deputy was there on the property trying to gather information to assist medical personal treating the patient, Upon the deputies arrival on the property several individuals fled from the Deputy into the woods. The deputy was not assisted on the property nor immediately able to identify those that fled".
(NOTE THAT HE MISQUOTES HIS OWN PRESS RELEASE)
...he spoke to a homeowner , he advised why he was there, he was not assisted, individuals fled into the woods.... The investigation is to answer questions we all have.
I reviewed the County fee schedule and a 911 audio that is needed to transcribe is $50.00.
ME TO LINDGREN, JUNE 6, 12:54 P.M.
Our attorney, Mark Anfinson, accepted your explanation for why the ICR didn't show up in the report.
However, he said even if the investigation has been conflicted out, it's clear in the law and policy directives by the state that you still have to share data from your office's ICR.
He was a little surprised that in this day and age of liability and litigation, that you wouldn't have a second ICR for the deputy's call to the residence.
The information I need from your ICR at this time are names of all individuals contacted or interviewed by the deputy at the Foreston residence.
Thanks again, Brett
LINDGREN TO ME: JUNE 6, 4:44 P.M.
Brett, there is no call for service, ICR, to the address in Foreston, the deputy went on the property trying to gather information to assist medical treating the patient, Attached is the ICR report from the medical.
(Note that I asked for INFORMATION and he sent the form. Typical runaround)
ME TO LINDGREN:
From: BRETT LARSON
Subject: Re: a few things
Date: June 6, 2013 5:02:01 PM CDT
To: brent lindgren
Let me rephrase that. I didn't want the ICR.
I want the public information from the call, specifically the names of those interviewed by the deputy who went to the Foreston address. Also the time and the name of the deputy.
I want the homeowner's name and any kids who are 18 or over.
Here are the relevant passages from Statute 13.82
Subd. 6.Response or incident data. The following data created or collected by law enforcement agencies which document the agency's response to a request for service including, but not limited to, responses to traffic accidents, or which describe actions taken by the agency on its own initiative shall be public government data:
(a) date, time and place of the action;
(b) agencies, units of agencies and individual agency personnel participating in the action unless the identities of agency personnel qualify for protection under subdivision 17;
(g) names and addresses of witnesses to the agency action or the incident unless the identity of any witness qualifies for protection under subdivision 17;
LINDGREN TO ME:
Brett, here is our request for data PDF form, there should be a request on file for each specific request so we are clear on what the request is and what we are providing should you request a copy of the 911 transcript another could be filled out.
(NOTE: DATA REQUEST FORMS ARE NOT STANDARD PROCEDURE FOR THE MILLE LACS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE. I'VE NEVER HAD TO FILL ONE OUT BEFORE.)
ME TO LINDGREN:
I will comply and will need a timely response. I'll get the request to you in the morning and need the information by the end of the day tomorrow, Friday, June 7.
Can you explain why you're requiring a written request when I've never had to fill one out before and it's a straightforward request for what is clearly public data?
I submitted the two requests at 6:59 a.m. and 11:07 a.m.
The 6:59 form had this email:
From: Brett Larson [firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Friday, June 07, 2013 6:59 AM To: brent lindgren Subject: Re:
Sheriff Lindgren: 1. At this time I am not seeking "actual physical data" (Mn Statute 13.82, Subd. 16) but "information," which you "must make … available to the public in a reasonable manner." I have made a request (see attached) for information using the form you provided. In response, I simply need the names of the "witnesses to the agency action or incident": specifically, the homeowner contacted by your deputy and the individuals interviewed later in followup to ICR 13004942 (as described in personal correspondence to me Jun 6, 2013, at 10:54 AM and in the June 5 news release "Alleged underage consumption"). It is a reasonable request that you email me the names or call me with the names as soon as you receive this email, since I made the initial request for the public information nearly 24 hours ago (Thursday, June 06, 2013 7:17 AM). 2. I will submit a second request for the copies of any reports related to ICR 13004942 but I want to make sure I make the request correctly. Please tell me the name of the report your deputy produced as part of the follow up to ICR 13004942 where names and addresses of witnesses to the agency action or the incident (specifically the homeowner contacted and those interviewed either during the morning of May 27 at at 15203 140th Street, Milaca Township, Foreston, MN or later in followup) are recorded. I want to make sure that I fill out your request for data form in a way that will result as quickly as possibly in my inspection of the reports and receipt of the copies. I would like to pick up the copies before the end of public office hours today, Friday, June 7. Thanks, Brett Larson, editor
I received Kent Larson's denials at 11:04 and 11:10.
The timeline of events on the night of an underage drinking party on the property of Mille Lacs County Attorney Jan Jude leads to several questions, especially regarding the actions of Deputy Bradley Hunt.
Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren could provide answers through release of public data related to ICR 13004942 — the ICR initiated when Bailey Hamilton's parents called 911 on May 27.
Lindgren has refused to do so, citing protection of juvenile identity, but that does not explain why he hasn't provided any other public data, including Hunt's time and place of departure, the time of arrival at and departure from Judes', a brief factual reconstruction of events, the names of non-juveniles encountered, like the homeowner Lindgren said Hunt contacted, the license plate numbers he collected, and the time and place of followup interviews referenced in his press release, and non-juvenile individuals interviewed.
It is all public information, according to Mark Anfinson, attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association.
Here is what we know:
- Deputy Hunt cleared the scene at Hamiltons' at 1:39 a.m.
- Ally Mrozik's parents saw a squad car sitting at the intersection of 18 and 140th St. with its headlights on at 2:05 a.m. when they drove to the Judes' property. Two cars left the property as they one driving in. One of the cars drove in the ditch to pass them.
- Deputy Hunt did not reach the scene before Mrozik's parents left at about 2:25. The squad car was gone when they left.
- After Skogman left the party, he saw a squad car traveling at a high rate of speed north on County Road 18 out of Foreston. He left Hamiltons just after 1 and thinks he spent an hour at the party after he returned.
- According to Kim Hamilton's phone records, Chad Hamilton called dispatch at 2:48 a.m., asking Hunt to call him back.
- She thinks Hunt called at 2:50 and 2:54. The phone numbers of those calls are zeros. Chad Hamilton told Hunt the doctor was looking for more information to help Bailey
- No second ICR was created after that call. According to Lindgren the visit to Judes' was a follow-up to the medical ICR, so there is only one ICR detailing Hunt's activities that night.
- Hunt called back at 3:36 a.m. and said, according to Kim, "Pretty much nobody knows nothing."
The obvious questions are these: What was the squad car doing there at 2:05? How did Hunt attempt to gather information to help Bailey Hamilton? Who was the homeowner he contacted? Did he make contact in person, by phone, by radio, or by some other means? Who was at the party (we know most were 18 or older)? Why was no one cited for underage drinking?
Sheriff Lindgren could clear this up simply by giving us public data, but he refused, citing protection of juvenile identities. But names of juveniles are not what we requested. We are looking for a, d and f below, in addition to any names of adults.
Part of the data from the call would also be the license numbers taken by Hunt, and the owners' names, but Lindgren has not released any of that. Our request was for all public data related to the medical ICR, including the followup work by Deputy Brad Hunt.
If anyone has answers to any of these questions, please call Diane Gibas at (320) 676-3123 or email email@example.com.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Mille Lacs Messenger.