ACLU Blasts Tosa on Records Fees
Police considering high fees to discourage open record requests is a “red flag” of bad intentions.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin (ACLU) has issued a series of statements condemning an internal email sent by personnel at the Wauwatosa Police Department (WPD) in 2016. Sent from Detective John Milotzky, who also serves as president of the Wauwatosa Peace Officers Association (WPOA), the email discusses the possibility of charging high fees as a way of discouraging open records requests.
In a statement, the ACLU specifically cited the Wisconsin Examiner’s reporting of the email. “Charging the public outrageously high costs to request records about the police shooting of Jay Anderson, Jr. is not only unlawful, but shows the gross disregard and lack of respect that the Wauwatosa Police Department continues to have for the community it is tasked with protecting and serving,” said Molly Collins, advocacy director for the ACLU of Wisconsin.
In the email, Milotzky mentions discussing the release of Officer Joseph Mensah’s personnel file. The document was requested during the investigation into the Anderson shooting, the second fatal incident involving Mensah. Milotzky, who was emailing a WPD captain, noted that while refusing to release the file would be pointless, charging high fees for such requests is a practice WPD should look into in the future.
Now, in 2020, the department is flooded with open records requests related to its past activities and more recent operations against Black Lives Matter protesters. The ACLU of Wisconsin, the lawyers of Motley Legal, and the Wisconsin Examiner all have pending open records requests with the department. Motley Legal continues to pursue the rest of its $5,400 records request with WPD.
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.