IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING OPEN RECORDS, Effective July 24, 2020
IMPORTANT OPEN RECORDS UNIT UPDATE, Effective July 24, 2020
Georgia has been under a Public Health Emergency since March 14, 2020. The Open Records Unit (ORU) of the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) continues to operate during normal business hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. However, for the safety of the public and our staff, the ORU personnel are rotating between working in the office and working remotely. With this schedule, the ORU is able to respond most quickly and efficiently to email requests, as opposed to requests sent via mail, fax, or telephone. In order to better serve the public with our current capabilities, we ask that you submit your request by email to [email protected], and attach the filled-in form Open Records Request Form . DPS is committed to providing access to public information and appreciates your understanding and patience during this unprecedented time.
TECHNOLOGY ENHANCEMENTS: EPORTS
To better assist the public, DPS is implementing new technology for production of our documents and materials, which we expect to launch in August of 2020. The Efficient Purchase of Records and Transfer System (EPORTS) is a web-based platform designed to streamline the process of request – search – retrieval – review – redaction - and production of responsive materials. Through EPORTS, a requestor will be able to input criteria for DPS-prepared incident reports, citations, and crash reports, and receive such responsive documents electronically. EPORTS will ultimately be a portal for other frequently requested materials, including photographs and dashcam videos.
DPS is also installing a digital video camera in every newly equipped patrol vehicle, which enables us to use cloud-based video storage. With this system, the requestor may receive a digital video link by email.
Over the last 10 years, DPS has provided hundreds of thousands of documents and videos to requestors at no charge. Over that same timeframe, the volume of requests to DPS has skyrocketed. For example, DPS received 7,861 requests in 2009 and 38,329 requests in 2018, which is a 387% increase. Thus, as authorized by Georgia law, DPS must pass a percentage of future costs to the requestor. DPS has therefore developed a billing system designed to calculate the lowest costs associated with search, retrieval, review, redaction, and production by the lowest paid employee capable of providing the type of responsive materials requested. We anticipate the following costs, with on-line payment capabilities:
|Crash Report: $5.00|
|Incident Report: $2.00|
|Dashcam Video Link: $10.00|
|Personnel File: $.25/page|
|Citation: First citation at no charge, and $1.00 for each additional citation.|
|SCRT File: First 10 pages free, with $.25 for each additional page.|
|IA/OPS File: First 10 pages free, with $.25 for each additional page.|
|Dashcam Video on DVD: $12.00 if picked up at DPS headquarters, and $15 total if sent to requestor via U.S. Mail.|
|Video Witness Statements: $.50/each minute.|
Because DPS servers, computers, and network systems were compromised by a ransomware attack on July 26, 2019, we have scanned and cleansed our systems and determined encryption of at least 50% of then-stored data, including videos, photos, and documents. All that data is lost. Most of the remaining stored data was scrambled, which makes it difficult and time-consuming to determine the existence and location of requested materials. Also, because of the ransomware impact to our field computers, our ability to store data from July 26, 2019 through December of 2019 was compromised, resulting in additional lost data, including dash-cam video.
The ransomware attack has greatly impacted the ORU’s ability to respond to many requests received over the last year. Thus, we are contacting requestors of pending requests from 2019, and asking them to submit a new request only if materials are still needed. We have discovered that many requestors no longer seek the earlier requested materials, which allows us to more quickly address and more efficiently serve other requestors and the public.
The following should assist you in determining availability and processing:
A. Crash Report, Incident Report, or Citation
If you are ONLY requesting a crash report, incident report, or citation, you may submit your request, preferably in writing, directly to the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) Post that serves the county where the incident occurred. GSP locations are available on-line at Troop and Post Locations. Your request will be handled in the order of receipt.
The Department’s approximate 50,000 photo files held in our evidence room are intact; however, ransomware compromised some servers which were holding photos before they were moved to the evidence room. The virus also compromised the database that tells us the existence and location of those files. Please be patient as we attempt to determine whether we have releasable photos that match your request.
C. Dashcam Video
Please determine whether your request for a copy of a DPS dashcam video is viable, as follows:
1. Is the Criminal Matter Still Pending?
If your request for a DPS dashcam video pertains to a criminal investigation, we cannot release the video until the criminal matter is no longer pending, unless you provide us with written authorization for release from the corresponding prosecutor or Judge. See O.C.G.A. §50-18-72(a)(4). If the criminal matter is closed, you must send us a copy of the disposition sheet from the Court adjudicating the case, as DPS does not maintain disposition records. If the criminal case is still pending, please feel free to utilize the attached form for you to seek authorization from the prosecutor Prosecutor Authorization for Release of Dashcam Video Form . DPS cannot seek authorization on your behalf. After two weeks without receipt of authorization or disposition documents, we must close your file. Thereafter, you will need to send a new request to the DPS ORU with the appropriate disposition or authorization.
Prior to July 26, 2019, DPS dashcam videos were housed at 71 GSP Posts and Motor Carrier Compliance Division (MCCD) Weigh Stations which serve the counties where recorded. For example, a GSP dashcam video of a GSP DUI arrest in Bibb County on May 31, 2019 would have been downloaded and stored at GSP Post 44-Forsyth (Monroe County).
If the criminal matter giving rise to your requested video is no longer pending or you have provided us with written authorization from the prosecutor or a Judge’s Order to release a copy of the video, then the following determines whether we can satisfy your video request:
a. Digital Dashcam Videos Stored PRIOR to July 26, 2019 are NON-RECOVERABLE for 29 Locations:
|GSP Post 3-Cartersville||GSP Post 9-Marietta||GSP Post 11-Hinesville|
|GSP Post 12-Thomasville||GSP Post 13-Tifton||GSP Post 16-Helena|
|GSP Post 17-Washington||GSP Post 18-Reidsville||GSP Post 19-Swainsboro|
|GSP Post 20-Dublin||GSP Post 25-Grovetown||GSP Post 26-Thomaston|
|GSP Post 27-Blue Ridge||GSP Post 28-Jasper||GSP Post 29-Paulding|
|GSP Post 33-Milledgeville||GSP Post 36-Douglas||GSP Post 37-Cumming|
|GSP Post 38-Rome||GSP Post 39-Cuthbert||GSP Post 40-Albany|
|GSP Post 41-LaFayette||GSP Post 43-Calhoun||GSP Post 44-Forsyth|
|GSP Post 45-Statesboro||GSP Post 52-Hartwell|
|GSP SCRT E*||GSP SCRT G**|
Weigh Station Region 6 Station 13, Monroe County
*Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team E (SCRT E) – Serves GSP Posts 8-Madison, 17-Washington, 25-Grovetown, 33-Milledgeville and 46-Monroe
**SCRT G - Serves GSP Posts 10-Americus, 12-Thomasville, 14-Colquitt, 39-Cuthbert and 40-Albany
See Troop and Post Locations for GSP Post regions and Region Locations for MCCD regions to reference whether the dashcam video you seek from an incident occurring before July 26, 2019 was stored at one of the above 29 locations. If so, that video was encrypted and is no longer available.
b. OTHER DPS Digital Dashcam Video Stored PRIOR to July 26, 2019:
By our current estimate, between 25% and 50% of DPS video recordings made prior to July 26, 2019 have been encrypted or concealed from use from the 71 DPS storage locations across the state. Thus, in addition to the 29 locations listed above, it is possible that the dashcam video you desire from prior to July 26, 2019 no longer exists. The process of determining the existence of your requested video will require multiple steps by DPS personnel at multiple locations. Thus, we ask for your patience as we address requests in the order of receipt.
c. DPS Digital Dashcam Video Stored SINCE July 26, 2019 IS NOW AVAILABLE:
DPS dashcam recordings made and stored since July 26, 2019 are mostly available and housed at centralized DPS facilities, which may require additional time for retrieval until the cloud-based storage system is fully operational.
NOTE: All records requests are subject to the Georgia Open Records Act and may result in the requestor being billed for the requested information. If you have questions, contact the DPS Open Records Unit at 404-624-7591.