Rep Accuses Duluth Police of Violating Data Practices Act following Gauthier Arrest

24 Aug

The Duluth News Tribune and the Strib are both reporting on the investigation by a Minnesota House subcommittee into the Duluth Police Department’s record-keeping system in the wake of the Kerry Gauthier investigation. Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, who chairs the house subcommittee on data practices, said in a letter to Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay that the department “appears to have violated the law in order to avoid disclosing public data” in the case.

Scott’s letter said the department “twice failed to comply with requests for public data related to the Gauthier investigation.”

According the the News Tribune, Duluth police said the investigation on Gauthier was categorized in its database as high-profile, meaning that only a few officers in the department knew about it and could see the information. Thus, when the News Tribune initially asked for information on the case, the department responded that none existed. At that time, the officers who did the search didn’t have access to that case, Deputy Police Chief Robin Roeser said.

In her letter to Ramsay, Scott said maintaining public data on “high-profile” cases and keeping those cases separated from others was “highly inappropriate and a clear violation of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.”

“By restricting access to public data related (to) incidents involving ‘high profile’ individuals, the Duluth Police Department has created two sets of rules for handling public data,” Scott wrote. “For regular people, requests for data will be processed according to the rules of Chapter 13. For ‘high-profile’ people, the police will decide which data to release and when to release it.”

Scott’s letter can be viewed here. The full text of the MGDPA can be viewed here.

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