Anderson County Sheriff’s Reports were not made available to The Journal this week. According to ACSO Public Information Information officer Sheila Cole, the reports were not available due to “the system being down.” The Journal has been receiving only the weekend reports now for a long time due to the way the Sheriff’s Office inputs information and makes it available. According to Cole, the reports are printed in batch form, but cannot be printed by a range of dates. When asked about getting the reports from the first of the week, Journal reporter Stan Welch was told we could request them and would be charged for the time it takes for an officer to print them out, at $12 and hour.
Occasionaly, such as this week, the reports are not available at all, and reasons may vary, such as the public information officer being out of the office, or in this case a computer clitch.
Often, information on the reports, such as suspect names and sometimes other information, is being redacted, which we believe is in violation of South Carolina Freedom of Information laws.
When questioned about this practice of redacting information from reports, Sheriff John Skipper has cited compliance with his department’s national accreditation protocols as the reason. The protocols appear to be in direct conflict with the SCFOIA, which allows a very limited range of exceptions, such as protecting the identity of juveniles, or of confidential informants. This impasse has existed for several years now.
“The Journal makes every effort to provide a detailed weekly report of crime in the portion of Anderson County that we cover, however keeping our readers informed is becoming more and more difficult,”said Managing Editor, David Meade. “During recent months, we have had several business owners ask us why a break-in at their business has not been reported in the newspaper.”
The only answer we can give them is in the explanation above.