Police Report’s Semi-Redaction

I just got back from the Phoenix Police Department Headquarters, where I purchased a copy of the Accident Report. The report is also available online through their e-Services department — we downloaded it a few days ago — but it indicates that an officer took pictures at the scene. The pictures are only available if you request a copy from the Records Office at HQ.

So I purchased the report ($3) and had a choice of photos for $.50/ea or all of them on CD for $4. I opted for the CD. In either case, it would take a week for pictures to be prepared and mailed to us.

But that wasn’t the interesting part.

In order to purchase a copy of the Accident Report, I had to complete a form that included my name, address, and phone number, along with my signature where I certify that I’m who I say I am and that I have a right to request the information. After the clerk verified my information, she printed off a copy of the report, then picked up a black wide-tip marker and manually redacted all the addresses and phone numbers of both Son#1 and the other driver, as well as the witnesses.

I found this very interesting since the report we downloaded online only required that we know the report number and the last name of one of the parties involved in the accident … and had absolutely no redactions! I double-checked this after returning from downtown — no redactions, everything is clearly readable.

Although I applaud the Phoenix Police Department for trying to do the right thing, they’re going about it bass-ackwards. The version online should be the redacted copy, and the version being handed out in person to a verified and authenticated individual should be the untouched copy.

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