Obtaining police emails can take months, cost thousands

When the editor of a gay-oriented newspaper in Florida requested records that he thought should be public, he cast a wide net, asking that the email of every employee of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office be searched for specific gay slurs over a five-month period.

The sheriff’s office initially told Jason Parsley that his request would cost $399,000, take four years and require the hiring of a dedicated staffer. The response set off a public-records marathon that lasted nearly a year. The Associated Press featured Parsley’s effort last year during Sunshine Week, a national government-transparency initiative that takes place each March, and then decided to join forces with his newspaper, the South Florida Gay News.

The goal was to determine whether such police emails were indeed public and, if so, how the public and media could obtain them in a timely and cost-efficient way. Continue…