The New Orleans Police Department has agreed to make incident reports available after they are approved by a shift supervisor, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The department settled a court dispute with the newspaper over how long it should take before the public can see the reports. The department had contended that the reports should be shielded from public view until they arrived at a records room in police headquarters, a process that can take two weeks.
The newspaper said the reports are public records as soon as they are written. Generally, an officer writes the reports before his or her shift is over. State law says that initial incident reports are public records; it includes a list of details they are supposed to contain, such as the location of the crime and a description of what happened. Other documents, such as reports from detectives on the status of their investigations, are shielded from public view and the newspaper did not seek those.