PINAC editor Jeff Gray has been having great success in walking into government buildings and making public records requests as he video records, indicating that North Florida agencies are much more compliant about the state public records laws than South Florida government agencies.
He just hasn’t had much success in making it out of the parking lot without getting detained.
It happened to him in October when he walked into the Daytona City Hall and ended up getting detained by police.
And it happened to him Monday when he entered the Levy County Sheriff’s Office to see if they would allow him to video record the cover page of the daily visitor’s log, which is one of the easiest requests to make because it’s sitting right there in the open and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort in complying with the request.
The point of the exercise is to see which agencies comply with simple requests and which ones don’t as well as to educate and encourage readers to learn the public records laws in their own states and begin making requests, which is one of the first steps to ensure government transparency.
The problem is that they always try to intimidate you in one way or the other.
After Gray recorded the cover sheet, he walked back outside and started shooting video, describing what he had just done, when a deputy began yelling at him from inside, ordering him to delete the video.
Naturally, Gray didn’t delete the video and just kept recording, eventually making it back to his car where he was approached by two high-ranking officials from the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.
Undersheriff W.O. “Brett” Beauchamp, III, the man directly underneath Sheriff Robert B. McCallum – and also the department’s “legal advisor” – along with Colonel Mike Sheffield, the Chief of Staff and third in command at the sheriff’s office, told Gray he was being detained because he was shooting video.
They said they needed to know who he was in case there was a jail break, so Gray handed over his identification under protest, and they seemed fine with that.
But you would have to be a real moron to walk into the department in the first place and make a public records request with the intent of breaking somebody out of jail, knowing they are capturing everything on surveillance camera.