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Posted on Jun 10, 2015

Police clerk suing over public records request

A police clerk is suing the City of Quincy and its police department for not turning over in a timely fashion public records that she requested.
Police clerk Diana Gonzales made the request for the records in September 2014. However, she has received only a partial amount of records to date, according to her lawsuit, filed on May 11.
On Friday, city attorney Allan Galbraith said he was embarrassed by the situation.
He’s currently reviewing the remaining records, which are about 1,200 pages, for any potential redactions, and is turning over documents as he completes them, he said.
“It is a very significant amount of records,” Galbraith said.
Galbraith said he has apologized to Gonzales and her attorneys.
“I have no problem with what they did,” he said of the lawsuit. “I wish I could have been able to get it done sooner.”
Gonzales seeks all public records related to the investigation of Dan Dopps, a former police sergeant with the city. Dopps was forced to resign from the police department in August 2014 after an investigation into allegations by Gonzales that he threatened her at work.
In March 2014, Gonzales had an argument with a Quincy detective. The incident left Gonzales upset, and she spoke with Chief Bob Heimbach about it, a report of the incident states.
Later, as Gonzales was sitting at her desk, Dopps walked behind her and allegedly made a remark about snitches under his breath. Gonzales told investigators that she asked Dopps what he said, and he repeated that “Snitches get stitches,” then held up a knife and walked in front of her to open a box near her desk.
In a petition for a protection order, Gonzales stated she feared for her safety and Dopps “does not have control of his anger.”
The Ephrata Police Department in April 2014 concluded an investigation into the allegations of harassment against Dopps. Four months later, Dopps resigned from the department.
Gonzales’ lawsuit against the city and police department states that in September 2014 she submitted a public records request asking for “any and all records” pertaining to the internal investigation of Dopps, including the reports and findings from Heimbach and the Ephrata Police Department.
In addition, Gonzales requested all records and documents pertaining to any other internal investigation and administrative review of Dopps since his date of hire.
Shortly after her request, Galbraith wrote that the information would be provided to her by Sept. 23, according to the lawsuit. However, that did not happen.
In November 2014, Gonzales’ attorneys wrote Heimbach demanding the requested records. In an email to Heimbach, Galbraith wrote, “We had better provide them, and quickly.”
Heimbach also wrote in an email in November 2014 that part of the delay was in making an electronic copy of the investigation, which fills a four-inch binder, according to the lawsuit.
While Heimbach provided the records to Galbraith for review and redaction, Gonzales still did not receive any records until January, according to the lawsuit. Galbraith stated in a letter that those records were in relation to the 2014 investigation; however, a second set of records associated with a 2009 investigation conducted by the Washington State Patrol would be coming.
Gonzales still has not received that second set of records, according to her lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claims that redacted information in the 2014 records should have been turned over, and Gonzales wants the public records “she is entitled to.”
The lawsuit requests the immediate production of the missing records as well as the redacted records in full. The lawsuit also asks for costs associated with attorneys’ fees incurred by Gonzales and for the city to pay Gonzales as much as $100 a day for every day the records were not handed over.
Judy Endejan confirmed that Galbriath has been turning over more records. However, she has not yet determined if any redactions are acceptable, Endejan said.
“We have to reach settlement and a full and final settlement hasn’t been reached,” she said.

 

— By Jill FitzSimmons, editor@qvpr.com

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