Ky. high court hears case on redacted police reports

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in a case over what information in a police report can be redacted.

The Kentucky New Era brought the case against the City of Hopkinsville nearly four years ago after the police department began blacking out names, addresses and phone numbers of victims and witnesses to crimes.

Louisville attorney Jon Fleischaker argued for the newspaper that the redactions hinder reporting on how officers handle crime reports.

Attorney Foster Cotthoff argued for the city that the policy is an effort to protect the privacy of victims and witnesses.

“To me, this case is about how much is enough,” said Justice Mary C. Nobel, who asked Fleischaker some of the most pointed questions of the hearing. “My question is why isn’t giving you the names reasonable and adequate because it seems to me that we keep getting cases that ask for more and more and more under the Freedom of Information Act, almost to the point of stymieing government function?”

Fleischaker said one of government’s functions is to provide information. “This is not a response by the police to protect individuals,” he continued. “It is a response to protect themselves.”

After being questioned by justices, Cotthoff said there was a possibility that the city could be sued for releasing the information. However, he said the city is now releasing more information, and it should be sufficient.

“They have names. They have gender. They have race and they have birthdays,” Cotthoff said.