— NM Cops and Courts Beat Guide

Original records of entry are not governed by IPRA. Rather, they are governed by ARIA, or the Arrest Record Information Act (29-10- 1 to -8).

Original records of entry are records that are compiled in chronological order. Examples are incident reports, accident reports (which likely can also be construed as incident reports) and dispatch logs. (See the discussion on dispatch logs and terminals to view dispatch logs.)

Case law and the laws themselves say, for original records of entry, they cannot be redacted, unless probable cause is shown that the specific release of information poses a serious risk of death/great bodily harm to someone.


(We should be clear here, and in the entirety of the Guide, redaction refers to redactions outside of the category of personal identifier information, as specified in the act).

Uninformed records custodians, when confronted with the actual language of ARIA, will argue that it specifically orders them to redact information related to those suspected or detained but not charged with a crime. They are wrong in this understanding and assertion.

Uniformed records custodians also think that the IPRA exemptions for law enforcement records can be applied to original records of entry. They are wrong.

This is when you should tell them no, it doesn’t work that way, and send them a copy of the 1994 Attorney General opinion that clearly states, once and for all, original records of entry cannot be redacted.

The 1994 AG opinion


QUESTION: Does the Arrest Record Information Act (NMSA 1978, S§ 29-10- 1 to -8 (Repl. Pamp. 1990 & Cum. Supp. 1993)) permit law enforcement agencies to maintain the confidentiality of information in police reports regarding the identity of persons arrested for or suspected of committing crimes?

CONCLUSION: With limited exceptions described in this opinion, information about persons arrested for or suspected of committing crimes is public.

The opinion goes on, and it is somewhat confusing. Here’s the final takeaway paragraph that clearly states that original records of entry are off limits for redaction (page 4):

Finally, even if it would otherwise be protected under either statute, information about a person accused but not charged with a crime is open to public inspection if it is contained in a document listed in Section 29-10-7, including a police blotter or other original record of entry maintained by a law enforcement agency.

This means none of the exceptions in IPRA apply to original records of entry.

The AG’s IPRA guide

The Attorney General’s IPRA guide talks about this issue as well on pages 12-14:

The law enforcement records exception does not protect information subject to disclosure under the Arrest Record Information Act (NMSA 1978, §§ 29-10-1 to -8). This includes records identifying a person who has been arrested. In addition, information contained in posters, announcements or lists for identifying or apprehending fugitives or wanted persons; court records of public judicial proceedings; records of traffic offenses and accident reports; and original records of entry compiled chronologically, such as police blotters, are required to be available for public inspection.

Police blotters and other original records of entry that the Arrest Record Information Act makes public are permanent, chronological records of arrests, detentions and other events reported to and kept by police departments and other law enforcement agencies. Typically, a police blotter includes the name, physical description, place and date of birth, address and occupation of persons arrested, the time and place of arrest, the offenses for which the individuals were arrested or detained, and the name of the arresting officer. Other examples of original records of entry besides police blotters are radio logs, dispatch logs, desk logs, offense logs, 911 tapes and other records of incidents reported to a law enforcement agency that are organized chronologically.

After a few examples, it goes a little further. Specifically, the guide addresses the few times an agency could redact an original record of entry.

In exceptional circumstances, information contained in an original record of entry or similar record might be redacted or blocked out before the record is disclosed in response to a public records request. Information may be withheld, however, only with substantial justification. For example, if a law enforcement agency knew or reasonably suspected that revealing a specific victim’s address would put the victim’s life in danger, then the agency could keep the address confidential.

In addition, victims of crimes specified in Article II, Section 24 of the New Mexico Constitution and in the Victims of Crimes Act (NMSA 1978, §§ 31-26-1 to -14), including murder, rape and other serious criminal offenses, have certain rights, including the right to have their dignity and privacy respected. The rights conferred under these provisions take effect when an individual is formally charged for allegedly committing one of the specified crimes against a victim. Once a defendant has been charged with the specified crimes, these provisions may provide law enforcement agencies, criminal prosecutors and judges with justification for denying public access to those portions of records that identify the victims of those crimes. The rights conferred under the constitution and the Victims of Crimes Act end upon final disposition of the court proceedings.

What’s the point?

The skinny is: incident reports can only have the personal identifier information redacted. That’s it, unless an agency has probable cause (a high bar) that the unredacted information could cause serious bodily harm or death, if they were released.

If things like an address or phone number are redacted, it may only be in exceptional circumstances, such as a witness or victim who faces a real and demonstrable danger if his address were revealed.

As mentioned above, incident reports are a special kind of record: a record of original entry, in the same class as dispatch logs. Because it’s an record of original entry, its rules are set by ARIA, or the Arrest Record Information Act.

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