Commonwealth Court: York County must release location information with 911 time-response logs

The state Commonwealth Court today ruled unanimously that York County’s 911 time-response logs must include addresses or cross-street information. The York Daily Record/Sunday News had appealed a county common pleas court decision that allowed the county to withhold geographical information from time-response logs.

The court concludes that the Legislature’s intent by making time-response logs public was to allow people to assess their county’s emergency response. 
 ”In order to be able to conduct such an evaluation,” the court concluded, “or, for that matter, emergency responders to monitor their own performance, time response logs must contain the time of the request for service, the address or cross-street information, and when the responder arrived at the scene. Without the address or cross-street information, there would be no way of knowing exactly how far the emergency responders had to travel in response to any given call and, therefore, no way of determining whether or not those response times were deficient. Necessarily then, the term ‘time response logs’ as used in Section 708(b)(18) of the RTKL does not exempt destination addresses or cross-street information.”
The court case stemmed from a YDR/SN request for time-response logs, which were made public by the state’s new open records law. The county said it would not provide addresses or geographical locators, saying it was not required to under the law and that doing so would jeopardize victims. 
The newspaper appealed to the state’s open records office, arguing that addresses or locators were essential in order to assess first-responder performance. The OOR agreed. The county then appealed to common pleas court. 
Read more about the back-and-forth involving this case here, here and here. And I’ll have more later on the blog.

About Scott Blanchard

Sunday editor at the York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.
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2 Responses to Commonwealth Court: York County must release location information with 911 time-response logs

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    What you should really request are when the call was created(911 recieves it) and the time lapse until the call is dispatch(the fire,police,ems are told about it)! That would be by far more interesting then how long it takes to get to the scene. I bet you would be shocked in some cases. When you consider a fire doubles in size every 30seconds!

  2. CC, thanks for the idea. We’ll check that out.

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