Dear Old Bridge Township,

This is a request for public records made under OPRA and the common law right of access. I am not required to fill out an official form. Please acknowledge receipt of this message.
Records requested:

Please provide me with a list of the number of patrolmen on duty, in patrol cars, during a normal weekday, 10 hour shift.
* This record can be obtained by asking the police scheduler for a copy of today's shift, and redacting (blacking out) names if necessary.
* The request should not be overly broad. It is, in fact, very specific.
* The report is called a, "Duty Shift Roster".

Yours faithfully,

Anonymous.

Gretchen McCarthy, Old Bridge Township

Dear Anonymous,

The Old Bridge Township Records Custodian received your Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request on January 21, 2020. As such, the seven (7) business day deadline to respond to your request is January 30, 2020. This response to your request is being provided to you on the 2nd business day after the custodian’s receipt of said request.

Your OPRA request sought access to the following:

“…..a list of the number of patrolmen on duty, in patrol cars, during a normal weekday, 10 hour shift.
* This record can be obtained by asking the police scheduler for a copy of today's shift, and redacting (blacking out) names if necessary.
* The request should not be overly broad. It is, in fact, very specific.
* The report is called a, "Duty Shift Roster".

Please be advised that your request is being denied for the following reasons:

1. To the extent that your request did not specify an identifiable government record but instead sought information (“a list of the number of patrolmen on duty, in patrol cars, during a normal weekday, 1o hour shift”), your request is invalid. Mag Entertainment LLC. V. Div. of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 375 N.J.Super. 534 (App. Div. 2005); Bent v. Stafford Police Department, 381 N.J.Super. 30 (App. Div. 2005). Your OPRA request sought data or information rather than an identifiable record. The New Jersey Superior Court has held that "[w]hile OPRA provides an alternative means of access to government documents not otherwise exempted from its reach, it is not intended as a research tool litigants may use to force government officials to identify and siphon useful information. Rather, OPRA simply operates to make identifiable government records "readily accessible for inspection, copying, or examination." N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1." (Emphasis added.) Mag Entertainment, LLC v. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 375 N.J.Super 534, 546 (App. Div. 2005). The Court further held that "[u]nder OPRA, agencies are required to disclose only "identifiable" government records not otherwise exempt ... In short, OPRA does not countenance open-ended searches of an agency's files." (Emphasis added.) Id. at 549.

2. Furthermore, to the extent that your request is seeking a personnel record of the Township of Old Bridge, i.e., your reference to a “Duty Shift Roster”, it is denied because such personnel records are considered a public record. OPRA provides that: “… the personnel or pension records of any individual in the possession of a public agency, including but not limited to records relating to any grievance filed by or against an individual, shall not be considered a government record and shall not be made available for public access, except that: an individual's name, title, position, salary, payroll record, length of service, date of separation and the reason therefor, and the amount and type of any pension received shall be a government record …” (Emphasis added.) N.J.S.A. 47:1A-10.

3. Finally, to the extent that your request encompasses or is intended to include or is a request for a “Duty Shift Roster”, the request is denied as a “Duty Shift Roster” is exempt from the definition of a government record pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1. because such records necessarily include details regarding surveillance techniques and staffing levels which, if disclosed, could pose a risk to the safety of police personnel as well as civilians employed by the Township of Old Bridge.

If your request for access to a government record has been denied or unfilled within the seven (7) business days required by law, you have a right to challenge the decision by the Township of Old Bridge to deny access. At your option, you may either institute a proceeding in the Superior Court of New Jersey or file a complaint with the Government Records Council (“GRC”) by completing the Denial of Access Complaint Form. You may contact the GRC by toll-free telephone at 866-850-0511, by mail at P.O. Box 819, Trenton, NJ, 08625, by e-mail at [email address], or at their web site at www.state.nj.us/grc. The Council can also answer other questions about the law. All questions regarding complaints filed in Superior Court should be directed to the Court Clerk in your County.

Gretchen McCarthy
Gretchen McCarthy, RMC
Deputy Municipal Clerk
Old Bridge Township
Thomas J. English Administration Building
1 Old Bridge Plaza
Old Bridge, NJ 08857
(732)721-5600, ext. 2210

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