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Commissioners: Records Request Form Is About Efficiency, Not Stonewalling

Posted On July 16, 2014

By Mike Perleberg

(Dearborn County, Ind.) – Requesting some public records in Dearborn County could soon require some paperwork.

Dearborn County Commissioners began considering a proposal to add a public record request form at their July 1 meeting.  Commissioner Shane McHenry says the request form isn’t about limiting public access.

“We felt it was necessary to have a form to streamline the records requests,” McHenry tells Eagle 99.3. “The auditor’s office will handle the request which will allow for us to keep track of what information is released in case someone claims that they didn’t receive what they requested. This form is in no way meant to deter the public from retrieving records.”

Other municipalities, such as the City of Lawrenceburg, have a similar process in place for obtaining records. The county forms were drafted using sample forms provided in the Public Access Counselor’s Handbook, according to Dearborn County Attorney Andrew Baudendistl.

Commissioner Kevin Lynch says the proposed one page form would be for more in-depth and complex records requests taking more than a day to fulfill. Many easily accessible documents and records would remain available on-demand. News media will not be asked to complete the form, Lynch said.

VIEW THE PROPOSED DEARBORN COUNTY RECORDS REQUEST FORM HERE (PDF). THE DRAFT RESPONSE FORM CAN BE SEEN HERE (PDF).

Records at the Dearborn County Recorder and Clerk of Courts offices would remain available as they currently are, because those offices are governed by state statute.

“As always, I hope common sense prevails and information that is easily accessible is released to the public immediately,” says McHenry.

If commissioners vote to approve the new records request process, the plan is to post the form on the county’s soon-to-be introduced new website. According to Lynch, citizens will be able to download the form, fill in their request, and submit the completed form either electronically or in person. A response acknowledging the form has been received and is being processed would be sent back to the inquiring citizen.

“We wanted to make it more convenient and increase efficiency,” says Lynch. “We don’t want to create more congestion or heartache for anybody.”

There’s no timeline yet for implementing the request form, Lynch said Tuesday. While it has been discussed, commissioners have yet to vote on the issue.

Citizens are being asked to review at the proposed forms – you can view them in the links above – and submit their thoughts to county commissioners.