Eagle refuses records request
Written and verbal requests to the Eagle Police Department for what is usually public information were met Thursday and Friday with slammed doors and arrest threats from acting Eagle Police Chief Gary Ward.
“The Eagle Police Department improperly refused to provide the requested public documents to the reporter, which doesn’t comply with the Freedom of Information Act and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act,” said Vail Daily attorney Rohn Robbins.
In refusing the request, Ward said in a written statement that he is the “custodian of records” for the Eagle Police Department, and that the requested records were “criminal justice records.”
Robbins asserted that the request was not for criminal justice records, but for responses to a particular address in the town of Eagle, which he said falls under administrative records.
While investigating allegations that Los Angeles Laker guard Kobe Bryant sexually assaulted a 19-year-old Eagle County woman, Vail Daily correspondent Cindy Ramunno asked the Eagle Police Department and the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District for dispatch records, which Robbins said are generally considered public record.
The Greater Eagle Metropolitan Fire District provided information 10 minutes after the Vail Daily’s verbal request. The Eagle County District Attorney’s Office was also approachable and helpful, as were officials with the town of Vail, although Vail has yet to produce the requested records.
It was a different story with the Eagle Police Department. The Vail Daily requested information verbally early Wednesday afternoon, and again in writing between 3 and 4 p.m. that day. During follow-up calls, the newspaper was told by Ward that he had already compiled the requested information for the District Attorney’s Office and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. But he insisted to the Daily that “you’re not getting it!” Neither Sheriff Joe Hoy nor District Attorney Mark Hurlbert would comment.
In a telephone conversation, Ward said the district attorney was coming over at 5 p.m. that day to seal the records. But when the Vail Daily called the District Attorney’s Office, staff members said that would not happen and that the district attorney currently had no such plans.
The Vail Daily consulted with two attorneys, Charlie Willman of Glenwood Springs and Robbins. Both asked Ward to provide the information under the Freedom of Information Act and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act, and provided Ward with the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act.
Willman first consulted Ward by telephone, asking for the information. Robbins drove to the Eagle Police Department from his Edwards office to ask for the information.
As Robbins was on his to Eagle, Ward left the Eagle