From Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): It’s been more than seven weeks since Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Matt Stensland filed a Colorado Open Records Act request for Reports 3 to 5 from the city of Steamboat Springs’ investigation into allegations of police department misconduct. This records request was subsequently turned over to Interim Police Chief Jerry Delong, because City Attorney Tony Lettunich deemed the reports to be criminal justice records.
In the city attorney’s opinion, the open records law that requires a response within 72 hours of a CORA request does not apply to criminal justice records. The newspaper’s attorney, an expert in First Amendment law, disagrees.
Either way, the response time has now ballooned to 888 business-day hours, and to add insult to injury, the newspaper learned last week that the interim chief was out of the office for two weeks and won’t be able to provide an update on the records request until his return, which further extends the time between request and response.
This delay comes on the heels of a July 31 email from Lettunich, which was sent in response to another query about when the newspaper could expect a response from Delong on Reports 3 to 5. In that email, the city attorney informed the newspaper that Delong was unavailable for a week due to “pre-planned matters that were scheduled when he agreed to accept this interim position.” He said Delong would return the week of Aug. 10 to continue his review and analysis of the investigation report.
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