The Tucson Police Department is scrapping its policy of forbidding people to take photos of its records.
City Attorney Mike Rankin said Thursday most city agencies were already complying with a ruling this week by state Attorney General Tom Horne, which said public records must be available for free inspection during normal business hours. Horne also said state law allows those viewing the records to take pictures of them, also without cost.
“However, in one particular instance (records through the Police Department’s Public Information Office) we were not letting people photograph the record,’’ Rankin said in a written response to an inquiry by Capitol Media Services. “Instead we told them they could either inspect the record (and not photograph it) and not pay anything, or we would provide a copy and they would pay the copy costs.’’
Rankin said Horne’s opinion makes it clear that policy is illegal. “We’ve given the direction to change that practice and let the person inspecting the record take their own photo, and we won’t charge,’’ he said.
The practice of banning photos apparently is not limited to Tucson police.
State Ombudsman Dennis Wells said his office had had complaints from people forced to buy records when they just wanted to use their cellphones to take pictures of them. It was Wells who got Horne to look at the legality of the practice and issue his formal opinion.