Somewhere out there, someone must be teaching courses on imaginative ways to attempt to circumvent sunshine law requirements. Seriously! There appears to be a constant flow of ingenious ideas as to why police reports cannot be made public.
Not long ago, a highway patrol troop was telling folks they didn't have incident reports -- they didn't create them. Thanks to intervention by Attorney General Chris Koster's folks, that matter was resolved.
Then the St. Louis Police Department computerized and began telling the public that they could not inspect incident reports -- that since they were computerized, you would have to pay to print out a copy of a record before you could inspect it. If you wanted to pay a fortune, you could inspect all the incident reports for a certain date. But if you didn't have a name and date, you could not see an incident report (which, of course, you would still have to pay for). But now the circuit court in the City of St. Louis has made it clear that the right to "inspect" a record means allowing for an examination of the document and that there is a right to inspect a record separate and apart from the right to possess a copy.
Now, there is a community police department taking the position that while the law requires it to "maintain" incident reports, they don't have them and therefore they don't have to maintain them. In the next breath, it says that the arrest report, incident report and investigative report are all the same report and that it is all the investigative report.
Sigh. How can you not have an incident report, and yet have them in a consolidated report? How can you not have an incident report when the law in 610.100 says "Each law enforcement agency of the state, of any county, and of any municipality ... SHALL maintain records of all incidents reported...."
If these folks are charged with enforcing the laws of the state, one can only hope they understand the criminal laws they are enforcing better than they understand the law that applies to them!