Updated: 10:30 a.m. CDT
Posted: 9:14 a.m. CDT
JEFFERSON – The Marion County Sheriff’s Department (MSCO) failed to meet a second 10-day deadline of a Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) request by the Jimplecute.
The request was hand delivered to the MCSO office on June 17 by the Jimplecute and signed for by Captain Shelia Stokes.
On Monday, 11 days have passed since the Jimplecute initially requested “to inspect or obtain” the following on June 17:
1. The names of all persons, their age, place of residence, charge and bond amount who were booked into the Marion County Jail between June 10, 2019 through June 16, 2019.
2. The front page of all incident reports prepared during the period of June 10, 2019 through June 16, 2019.
3. The daily blotter for each day of the period of June 10, 2019 through June 16, 2019.
The Sheriff’s department has also failed to meet the 10-day deadline for a TPIA dated May 28 “to inspect or obtain”:
1. The names of all persons, their age, place of residence, charge and bond amount who were booked into the Marion County Jail between May 20, 2019 through May 27, 2019.
2. The front page of all incident reports prepared during the period of May 20, 2019 through May 27, 2019.
3. The daily blotter for each day of the period of May 20, 2019 through May 27, 2019
As of the date of this publication, the May 28 TPIA is now 24 days old and 14 days past due.
In a telephone call to the Jimplecute June 13, Sheriff McKnight said the delay for the May 28 TPIA was due to the department’s printer not functioning. The TPIA request impacted by that mishap, however, was the one dated June 3, which was delivered Friday within the 10-day deadline.
McKnight also blamed the missed deadline for the May 28 TPIA on a discrepancy in date received. “We’ve got a day’s discrepancy on when it’s submitted, I’ve got it [May 28 TPIA] received in the office on 29th,” he said.
The Jimp re-submitted the May 28 TPIA via hand delivery on June 14 as part of establishing a process where every TPIA submitted to MCSO be confirmed with a signature from a MCSO employee.
It is the “expectation” of a TPIA request for the documents to be “received” by the requesting agency within the 10-business day deadline.
Stokes alerted the Jimplecute twice on Friday via voicemail, at 12:26 p.m. and 1:25 p.m. that the June 17 request due that day was “ready for Mr. Palmer to pick-up.”
“That does not meet the requirements of the request,” Publisher Mica Wilhite said Monday.
In a letter dated and mailed June 25, Wilhite informed McKnight “Please be advised that the Jimplecute is not required to pick up the documents from a location you determine. The custodian of records to whom the request is directed is required by law to deliver them to the requester within 10 business days.
“USPS is acceptable as is hand delivery. We will no longer respond to phone calls alerting us that requested materials are ready for us to pick up in an effort to show good faith.”
The requests can be answered by email or other electronic means as well as paper.
The Jimplecute had received previous TPIA requests by walking over to the MCSO office in good faith. Other Marion County and City of Jefferson officials have complied with requests via hand delivery or mail via USPS to the Jimplecute office without exception. MSCO is the only entity that informs the Jimp that the documents are ready for pick-up.
The Jimplecute contacted the Texas Attorney General’s Open Records office to confirm the TPIA requirement for delivery.
“Yes, that is the expectation,” the office representative said before recommending the Jimp submit formal complaints.
Formal complaints for the May 28 and the June 17 TPIAs were submitted June 30.
The Jimplecute also has notified County Attorney Angela Smoak, Assistant County Attorney William Gleason, and County Judge Leward LaFleur.
“Nobody likes to track and report on documentation at this level of detail, but Sheriff McKnight works for the citizens of Marion County. We report this information so they will be informed about how their MCSO is being managed by its department head,” Wilhite said Monday.
A log of all active TPIAs from the Jimplecute to various governmental agencies in Marion County is published on the Classified page of the paper each week.
Prior to May 2, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Jefferson Police Department reported jail logs and call type reports to the Jimplecute on a weekly basis without a TPIA.
Update: A representative from MSCO hand delivered the requested documents from the May 28 and June 17 TPIAs Monday at 10:30 a.m. CDT.
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