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The Dripby Brew Editors5:01 pmMar 22, 20180

Brew’s request for De Sousa’s Internal Affairs files denied

Text of the Baltimore Police Department’s rejection of our Maryland Public Information Act request

Above: Darryl De Sousa with Mayor Catherine Pugh at a BPD Violence Reduction meeting earlier this year. (Fern Shen)

Amid widespread public calls for Baltimore’s new police commissioner, Darryl De Sousa, to release his Internal Affairs files, Baltimore Brew requested them last month via the Maryland Public Information Act.

Our request was denied today.

Here’s the text of the denial we received from Margaret Boyd-Anderson, a paralegal at the BPD’s Document Compliance Unit:

The Maryland Public Information Act (“PIA”), Annotated Code of Maryland, General Provisions Article, § 4-101, et seq. governs your request.

Simply stated, you have requested personnel records of an identified individual that are exempt from disclosure as a matter of law. See PIA § 4-311(a) (“Subject to subsection (b) of this section, a custodian shall deny inspection of a personnel record of an individual, including an application, performance rating, or scholastic achievement information.”).

Thus, to the extent you are requesting any records maintained by the Internal Affairs Division (“IAD”) and the Human Resources Section (“HRS”) for Darryl DeSousa, including any records of “disciplinary action, EEOC complaints, use of force reviews, complaints from the public, etc.” your request is denied. See Id.

In other words, if any record(s) exist that are responsive to your request, such records would constitute confidential personnel records and as such, are exempt from disclosure. See PIA § 4-311; Maryland Dept. of State Police v. Dashiell, 443 Md. 435, 459 (2015) (The internal affairs records in this case are specific to Sergeant Maiello, and thus are “personnel records” under Shropshire and Kirwan and its progeny. […] Because the records requested by Ms. Dashiell relate to discipline of Sergeant Maiello, they are “personnel records” and exempt from disclosure under Section 10–616(i) of the State Government Article.”); Montgomery County v. Shropshire, 420 Md. 362, 383 (2011) (“In sum, the internal affairs records involving alleged administrative rule violations by Sergeant Shropshire and Captain Parker-Loan are “personnel records” pursuant to Section 10-616(i) of the State Government Article, and are, therefore, mandatorily exempt from disclosure by the custodian of records.”); Kirwan v. The Diamondback, 352 Md. 74, 82-83 (1998) (“Although this list was not intended to be exhaustive, it does reflect a legislative intent that ‘personnel records’ mean those documents that directly pertain to employment and an employee’s ability to perform a job.”); Glass v. Anne Arundel County, 453 Md. 201 (2017) (“personnel record of an individual” includes any record that relates to a particular employee’s “hiring, discipline, promotion, dismissal, or any matter involving his status as an employee. […] The Court held that “internal affairs records … related to employee discipline” of a specific, identifiable police officer are within the personnel records exception, even if the investigation cleared the officer of wrongdoing.”); Riggins v. State, 223 Md. App. 40, 46-47 (2015) (“…the Department maintains these reports in the officer’s personnel file, and does not disclose the documents to third parties…”).

Please note, no amount of redaction to any responsive record would make it any less a confidential personnel record of an identified individual.

Nothing in this response is intended to indicate that any records sought from BPD exist or to waive any privileges held by the BPD. You have the right under PIA § 4-1B-04 to contact the Public Access Ombudsman to mediate any dispute(s) you may have with this response. You may also contest this response by filing a complaint in the Circuit Court pursuant to PIA § 4-362.

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