Also as usual they produced emails and their attachments as huge, unwieldy, non-text-searchable PDFs with highly degraded quality even though I asked them for MBOX files and the law requires them to produce MBOX files.2 They also produced attachments this way. You can see from the image what this process does to image files3 but imagine how incredibly useless it makes a spreadsheet! The CPRA’s requirement, found at §6253.9, is clear:
6253.9. (a) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, any agency that has information that constitutes an identifiable public record not exempt from disclosure pursuant to this chapter that is in an electronic format shall make that information available in an electronic format when requested by any person and, when applicable, shall comply with the following:
(1) The agency shall make the information available in any electronic format in which it holds the information.
(2) Each agency shall provide a copy of an electronic record in the format requested if the requested format is one that has been used by the agency to create copies for its own use or for provision to other agencies. The cost of duplication shall be limited to the direct cost of producing a copy of a record in an electronic format.
They refuse to do it, though, as they have been refusing since at least 2014. They change their reasons all the time, often in response to my pointing out that they’re lying about their capabilities. These days they’re not denying that they can produce MBOX files because everyone knows by now that they can do it even they used to say explicitly that it was impossible.4 Their current argument, also a lie, is that it’s impossible to redact MBOXes, so they can only produce as PDFs, which they can redact.
Which, as was very recently revealed, was certainly not the whole truth. Furthermore, I recently obtained this email chain involving LAPD CPRA analyst Masoomeh Cheraghi. She responded in May 2020 to a February 2020 email announcing various LAPD facial recognition policies, announced that she was working on my request,1 and was told by LAPD staff that there was in fact a Detective Bureau Notice on the subject.
TL;DR I filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission against CD15 staffer Amy Gebert and Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson and you can get a copy of it right here.
In June 2019 I asked Joe Buscaino’s PR flack Amy Gebert for some emails. After wasting three months on bad-faith arguments she agreed to produce 10,000 pages by April 2021. In March 2020 she produced the first two hundred1 pages, printed out on paper, in an untidy stack, and told me I’d have to pay $0.10 per page to obtain copies.
One of the conditions requires LAPD to use a web platform for handling CPRA requests, to publish the requests so that they’re searchable, and to publish records produced as well. The full text of this clause is transcribed below. The City addressed this requirement by adopting NextRequest, but so far LAPD has failed to publish requests consistently, and even when they do publish them, they often won’t publish the released documents or the conversation with the requester, both of which the settlement requires them to do.
In particular, at the time of writing, requests 19-4413 and 19-4414 remain unpublished and the released documents remain unavailable and unsearchable for anyone but the logged-in requester. It’s essential that LAPD publish all published requests, but I have a particular interest in these two given that recently LAPD Chief Michel Moore publicly accused me of making requests that “are intentionally designed to be unclear, confounding, and/or overbroad.”
The evidence Moore cited is based on these two requests, which are none of the things he accuses me of intentionally designing them to be. So a couple weeks ago I asked LAPD Lt. Marla Ciuffetelli, new boss of the CPRA Unit, to publish them. She has so far completely ignored my request1 despite the fact that LAPD is subject to a court order requiring publication and despite the fact that the requests are themselves public records, which I requested.
Let’s take a look at LAAC §12.21. This is the local version of CPRA §6254, which is the main list of exemptions. The infamous §6254(f) is the so-called investigative exemption, which basically allows the cops1 to refuse to release any records which can properly be described as “investigatory or security files.” And the local LA version, found at LAAC §12.21(f), is roughly the same albeit localized.
With at one exceedingly important exception! But before that, some background! The LAPD Public Disorder Intelligence Division was established by Chief Edward Davis in 1970, apparently as a reaction to the Watts Uprising in 1965. The PDID infiltrated hundreds of progressive political groups and also spied on electeds from the Mayor to the City Council.2 According to historian Max Felker-Kanter:3
The PDID operated as an updated Red Squad gathering “practically all” information on “potential threats” and storing as much information as possible. It was, in other words, a comprehensive surveillance program that significantly expanded the department’s intelligence operations.
You want to know how angry the LAPD is at me? Well, they are so angry that Chief Michel Moore, who apparently reads my blog obsessively but fails to understand most of it, wrote me a really aggressive, really disrespectful letter about how freaking mean I am to everybody and they’re not going to work very hard on my requests for public records going forward.1 No, really, read the letter! Cut through all the nonsense in there and all it really says is that they’re going to continue not filling my requests and lying about the reasons. But of course they’re doing that anyway, so it’s not much of a threat.
But let’s talk about why Moore is so angry at me! Start with the quality of my requests, and remember, this is Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore speaking: you frequently submit CPRA requests to the Department that are complex, vague, and/or overbroad, which create considerable burdens for the Department, and which significantly constrain the ability of some of the Department’s staff to fulfill their other work responsibilities and efficiently serve other members of the public.
UPDATE: This story is about my attempt to get copies of 24 episodes of an LAPD podcast. LAPD has so far refused to produce them to me but I independently found a way to download them from the Department’s podcast host. I uploaded all 24 to the Internet Archive and you can get copies at this link.
This is a story about two things. First, yet another instance of the Los Angeles Police Department violating the California Public Records Act in yet another completely novel way.1 Second, about a new tactic I thought of to enforce CPRA compliance by the City of Los Angeles in general and LAPD in particular, that I am trying out for the first time.