When New Hampshire’s Constitution was adopted on June 2, 1784, accountability of public servants to the people was established in Part 1, article 8, which reads: All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them.
In 1976, New Hampshire amended Part 1, article 8 of the State Constitution, reinforcing the existence of a right of access to public meetings and records, by adding the following two sentences: Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable, and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.
The New Hampshire Right to Know Law, also known as RSA Chapter 91-A, establishes the right of the public to access governmental records and attend government meetings. It allows individuals to request and obtain information from state and local government agencies, including police departments, subject to certain exceptions and limitations.
If you would like to access police logs or records using the New Hampshire Right to Know Law, here are the general steps you can follow:
Identify the records you want: Determine the specific police logs or records you are seeking. Be as specific as possible to help streamline the process.
Locate the appropriate agency: Identify the police department or law enforcement agency responsible for maintaining the records you are interested in. This could be a local municipal police department or the New Hampshire State Police, depending on the jurisdiction.
Prepare a written request: Create a written request that clearly identifies the records you are seeking. Include your name, contact information, and a detailed description of the records you are requesting. Be sure to mention that you are making the request under the New Hampshire Right to Know Law (RSA Chapter 91-A).
Submit the request: Send your written request to the designated records access officer or custodian of records at the police department. Make sure to keep a copy of your request for your records
Await the response: The agency is required to respond to your request within five business days. They may provide the requested records, deny access to certain records if they fall under an exception, or request an extension if additional time is needed.
Review the response: If the agency denies your request or provides only partial access, they must provide a written explanation citing the specific legal basis for the denial. You have the right to appeal the denial and request a review by the New Hampshire Superior Court.
It's important to familiarize yourself with the specific provisions and exceptions outlined in RSA Chapter 91-A to understand the limitations and requirements for accessing records under the law. Additionally, some police departments may have their own procedures and guidelines for requesting records, so it's advisable to check their websites or contact them directly for any specific requirements. But don't forget, it is the law, they must comply and why you want the records is not relevant to what the government must provide.