WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Police Department did not violate any laws by keeping decades-old sensitive cases in a limited-access file separate from other investigations, the city’s attorney has concluded after a three-month internal review.
City Attorney Jennifer Magana’s scrutiny came after City Manager Bob Layton said he became aware of the files commonly described as “confidential,” including those dealing with police officers and city employees, dating to the 1980s, The Wichita Eagle has reported.
Most police records are accessible by more than 800 Wichita police employees, but the limited-access files are available to 92 people across five agencies or departments. There are 486 “confidential” files in the limited-access database.
Magana said the files contain sensitive cases involving Wichita police officers and city employees or high-profile individuals, and that not all 800 Police Department employees need access to those files.
“The system appropriately exists to prevent ‘snooping’ by curious employees who have no business need to access these files and to protect the integrity of certain investigations,” according to the review.
“I find that this practice does not violate any other law or policy,” Magana concluded, recommending that police continue to use this model.
Although Magana’s review found no systematic approach to designating files as limited access, she recommended that the Police Department and the incoming police chief develop policies about what files go in the limited-access database.
Magana said she was not aware of whether other Kansas law enforcement agencies have similar databases, and she recommended regular file audits.
Magana said the city will look at whether to retroactively release some of the records from the database, and the files are subject to the Kansas Open Records Act.
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