Requesting police reports from the Ohio State University Police Department isn’t as simple as it used to be.
Requests for police reports go through the police records department. And while The Lantern used to typically receive reports a few hours after requesting them, it’s recently taken as long as nine days.
That’s largely because reports now have to go through the university’s Public Records office as well.
Lizabeth Corrigan, the records manager at University Police, said all reports except traffic crash reports must go through the Public Records office.
”A few weeks ago, the OSU Public Records Office asked to review all report requests before we sent them out, as they are going to change how we release reports,” she said in an Oct. 6 email.
The Lantern requests select police reports every week for a crime brief. The newspaper requested reports on Sept. 30 and didn’t received the reports until nine days later. A records technician for University Police said she had asked OSU Public Records for clearance on releasing those reports, but hadn’t heard back from the office for more than a week.
The Lantern requested more records last Wednesday and received them the following day. Both the Sept. 30 and Wednesday records requests were filled on the same day.
To be sure, Corrigan was sick and out of the office for a few days around the Sept. 30 request, but she passed the records request on to a records technician to handle.
While OSU spokesman Gary Lewis denied there was a change and said instead that the system is streamlining the process, it actually adds additional people and another office to a system that normally filled requests within hours. Still, he said he’s not worried that the records will take longer to process going through two departments.
“They have the software and technology to do certain things,” Lewis said of the Public Records office.
Ohio law states that public record requests must be filled “within a reasonable period of time,” and doesn’t offer a specific time frame.