On January 5, I sent a records request to the Chicopee Police Department’s Records Officer Louis Vezina. Vezina acknowledged his receipt of the request by email on January 8. The 10-day window for the Chicopee police to respond was up on the 18. Officer Vezina said in his January 8 email that he sent my request off to the Facebook administrator Officer Mike Wilk. I never heard from Wilk and was never given his contact information, despite asking for it.
The City of Chicopee’s Associate Solicitor Christine Pikula sent me another acknowledgment on January 12, letting me know that they had my request and would coordinate with the police department to produce a response as soon as they could.
After the 10 days lapsed without a response, I reached out to Vezina, asking him if the overdue request had been addressed. Despite his job as Records Officer, Vezina claimed he was not involved and that I had to speak with Wilk. I pointed out that he had not provided any contact information for Wilk, to which Vezina did not respond.
I reached out to the official Facebook account for the Chicopee police and was directed to the City Solicitor, so I requested an update on the status of my overdue request from Associate City Solicitor Pikula. Pikula returned a uniquely ridiculous letter claiming that her acknowledgment was in fact a response meaning my records request was not overdue and that their official response is that they will respond.
“Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 66 s.10, the City did provide a response to you within ten (10) days of your request, and your request is not overdue. As indicated in my letter of January 12, 2015, we are reviewing your request with the appropriate departments and will get a response to you as soon as we can,” she wrote.
Pikula cites the public records law in her letter but has failed to comply with it. The claim that her earlier acknowledgment letter constitutes a records request response is false. According to the guide on the Massachusetts Public Record Law put out by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, “The records custodian must respond to requests as soon as practicable, without unreasonable delay and within ten calendar days. The response must be either an offer to provide the requested materials or a written denial” (emphasis added).
The January 12 email attachment from Pikula neither offered to provide me with the requested records nor denied my request and as such it does not constitute a response.
28 days after the request was acknowledged, Pikula finally responded. I have appealed to the Supervisor of Records, asking that she and the Chicopee police be retrained on compliance with the records law since they obviously don't understand it.