The guy who artfully halted a public records request for documents related to the Albuquerque Police Department’s surveillance of Juggalos now says he was instructed to find ways to block such requests by his superior officers.
|The department also has an opening for a public records manager|
As part of the upcoming book on Juggalos, I sought open records from a number of police departments around the U.S. to find out what they were looking for and what kind of communications they had both before and after Juggalos were deemed a gang in the FBI’s bi-annual Gang Threat AssessmentReport in 2011.
One of the departments queried was the Albuquerque PD, which has had massive troubles regarding conduct and is now under federal oversight.
Reynaldo Chavez, the department’s records custodian and point man for public records, immediately asked for $250 to even continue to process my request. “When all is said and done that amount will likely be much higher,” he wrote to me.
We call this a creative denial, which is when a public body attempts to prevent a requestor from moving forward. This often indicates there are some records involved that the body does not want to make public but, if pressed, would be forced to.
I called Chavez to discuss this fee but he told me that that he was not permitted to discuss requests. I sent him an email advising him that I considered the $250 up front and his warning of "much higher" costs to be tantamount to a denial.
“You should also be advised, this is not a denial as you so eloquently state since you are being offered responsive documents,” Chavez said. “So this is an incorrect statement on your part...."
He also claimed he "did not say I was not permitted to discuss [records requests] so again you are incorrect…”
Of course he said it and was now backpedalling We never got the records because it would be foolish to keep sending money to a department with an already-dubious record for truth. After the first $250, Chavez could easily have come back with a $1,000 bill.
Chavez was fired on August 24 and now claims he was ordered by his superiors to concoct a means to deny public records requests. Now whom do we believe? Chavez was abrupt and confrontational in dealing with me, the public. So it’s pretty hard to root for him in this, or even believe him. Was he just carrying out orders when he made his cloaked denial?