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UNF Spinnaker

Police Chief: UPD unintentionally withheld reports from Spinnaker

UPD Chief John Dean took the blame for the lack of police reports released in the past month and a half, as UPD’s records clerk did not clearly understand what she could and could not release to the Spinnaker, he said.

Normally, UPD sends the Spinnaker anywhere from 10 to 15 police reports, also known as general offense reports, each week.

The norm declined rapidly throughout the end of January and the entirety of February. See the sidebar for specific numbers.

In the Feb. 3 issue, the Spinnaker published its first editor’s note regarding the lack of reports on Police Beat:

“Due to the lack of reports this week, the Spinnaker included some reports that were unpublished from previous weeks.”

In the Feb. 17 issue, the Spinnaker published all reports received that week – a total of two — in Police Beat, along with a second, longer editor’s note that pointed out the unusual decline in the quantity of reports and promised an investigation of the matter:

“The Spinnaker will compare the crime logs to the police reports we’ve received and report our findings to readers in next week’s issue.”

After reading the note in the Spinnaker, Dean contacted Media Adviser John Timpe and Editor in Chief James Cannon:

“Today I read in the Spinnaker that they believe there is an issue with reports being released. Can you advise me on this issue?”

In an interview with the Spinnaker, Dean said the following occurred after reading the Spinnaker’s editor’s note:

He approached the records clerk, Adonna Gattis, who is in charge of filing and compiling the reports.

“I said, ‘Are we releasing everything we’re supposed to be releasing?’ And that’s when she told me, ‘Yes, except for the follow-up investigations.’”

Dean immediately corrected her – in accordance with the law, UPD is supposed to release all public records, even if there’s information in a report that could “hamper” an ongoing or follow-up investigation. In this case, the report is supposed to be released with the hampering information blacked out, not withheld altogether as Gattis had been doing.

“Sometimes it might look like a zebra because of everything we have to redact,” Dean said. “But you still should’ve got the report. You didn’t.”

Gattis has been working for UPD for over four years and did not have any background in police records before then, Dean said. Gattis refused to comment entirely.

Dean said UPD took “disciplinary action” against Gattis before offering her a training class to relearn the information but said it “wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say” what specific action was taken.

“What it boiled down to was the appropriate action was taken,” Dean said.

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