As of July, the price of a Reno Police Department police report hit $45 — nearly a 400 percent price spike from the previous year when it was only $9.
According to a research study from the Reno Gazette-Journal, the price of a police report in Reno is the highest in the state and among the highest in the country.
The average price of a police report was $6 in Nevada, according to the study. Some departments, such as Nye, Washoe Sheriff, UNR and Henderson Police Department charge nothing for the public record. Other departments such as Sparks and Yerington Police Department only charge cents per page. The third highest priced only came to $20 from Elko Police Department.
The Reno Police Department police records also showed high compared to other major cities. For example, police reports from Los Angeles Police Department only run for $33, or $15 from New York Police Department. Police reports in cities such as Sacramento, San Francisco and Seattle are free.
The origin of the state’s highest fee came from the Reno City Council. The city of Reno hired Fiscal Choice Consulting in 2017 to study all of the fees charged by the city, according to the RGJ. These fees included but were not limited to rentals at public spaces and fingerprinting services.
The analysis of the fees in 2017 was the first since the 2008 recession. The study analyzed the labor and resources necessary to fulfill a police report request and dividing by the number of requests. This produced a $44 fee that got rounded up to $45 in July 2018.
The Reno Police Department police report fees are high compared to other Reno public records. To obtain a Reno Fire Department record, it only costs 5 cents a page. Reno police will release 15 minutes or less of body camera footage for only $6.75.
The calculation of the cost to obtain this public record may not actually be legal, however, under the Nevada Public Records Act. An analysis of the act by senior deputy attorney general Sarah Bradley revealed that the providing of public records is an agency’s regular duties.
“An agency may recover its actual costs in providing a copy of a public record to the requestor (NRS 239.052), providing copies of public records to the public is deemed part of the agency’s regular duties,” Bradley said in an analysis in the Nevada Lawyer. “Thus, these costs generally may include only actual costs incurred in responding to the records request, such as those for toner, paper and postage, and not employee time in responding to the request, unless the request is extraordinary. To recover its costs, the agency must prepare and maintain a list of its fees for providing public records, which should be posted in a conspicuous place in each of its offices (NRS 239.052(3)).6 Should an agency wish to waive a portion or all of its fee for providing records, the agency must adopt a written policy and post notice of this policy in a conspicuous place in each of its offices (NRS 239.052(2)).”
Many Reno citizens feel the fee is unjust. University of Arizona journalism professor David Cuillier told the RGJ that the fees are “deviant” and “out of control”.
“To be charging fees for records we already paid for is really double dipping,” Cuillier told the RGJ. “They say it takes staff time — that’s just the price of doing business as a government agency. It’s not like a user fee for using a park, this is a fundamental part of democracy.”
Olivia Ali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @OliviaNAli.