Florida Public Records Activists Come Down to Miami; Rabble-Rousing Ensues

Florida has some of the most liberal public records laws in the country but you wouldn’t know it when actually requesting such records.

Fortunately, Joel and Robert Chandler are doing everything they can to change that.

As many of you know, Robert Chandler was essential in prying public records from the Miami-Dade Police Department before my trial last year.

And Joel Chandler, who is seeking non-profit status for his website, Fogwatch.org, has been at it longer than his younger brother.

Last November, the Chandler brothers worked their way down to Miami from Tampa filing public records requests along the way, staying at my place for a couple of nights as they worked the Magic City.

I joined them with my camera during visits to the Miami Police Department, the Coral Gables Police Department and the state-run Department of Management Services.

As tempted as I was, I stayed home while they visited the Miami-Dade Police Department because I’m going to be suing them for violating my civil rights during my arrest last year and didn’t want to give them any ammo they could use against me, which we know they would.

The videos are above below. You will see that they not only refused to provide the public records, but they all had issue with me video recording inside a government lobby.

In the state building, they threatened to call police. In the police departments, they ordered me to turn off the camera, an order which I ignored (as I usually do).

They didn’t push the matter much after that, probably because they realized it wouldn’t have looked too good in trying to clamp down on somebody video recording a pair of friends making a public records request.

But they still didn’t comply with the records request.

In fact, of the 25 agencies the Chandlers visited on that trip, only nine complied with their requests, meaning they have filed or will file lawsuits against the agencies who did not comply.

One of my goals with this site since leaving Pixiq has been to focus more on public records education, so if you are a public records activist in your state, send me an email through the link below so I can possibly interview you for a story.



About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

Check Also

William Robocop Melendez convicted

Award-Winning Michigan Officer Known as “Robocop” Receives 13-Month Sentence for Vicious Beating Caught on Camera

The Michigan cop known as Robocop will spend at least 13 months in prison for …

  • anonrp

    get a message that the first video is private

    • Carlos_Miller

      Sorry about that. Just fixed it.

      • Gordon Freeman

        Man you public record guys are nutz. Making a video private that shows public officials refusing to supply public records. Is this some kind of Meta joke? :)

        Keep up the good work Carlos!!!

  • Rob

    Man those guys are sharp! Very cool, calm, and collected. Well done Carlos, Joel, and Robert.

  • IceTrey

    It would be helpful if they would give some cites. PINAC readers love our cites!

  • Ryan French

    Good work guys!

  • LastManOutTheDoor

    FDLE termination of FCIC access to a Police Department is exceeding rare. Only aware of one instance and the source would not name the PD that had abused it’s access. The ban was moot, considering the neighboring jurisdiction would run requests for them as a “favor”.

  • steveo

    Joel and Robert are probably now like Jesse and Frank James to the government boobs. I talked to Joel, a while back, and he said that if he was a lawyer, this is all he would do, because the plaintiff doesn’t make much money, but the attorney can get over $250 an hr for suing agencies that refuse to hand over public records in FL. My attorney Andrea Mogensen has made a fortune suing agencies who refuse to hand over public records. She won a $1 million dollar judgement against the City of Venice, FL for not handing over e-mails and that whole thing cost them nearly $2 million.

  • Bob

    Great job guys! I’m wondering how they will react to the illegal FCIC access since the Trooper Donna Watts lawsuit.

  • Luc

    Great videos, hope to see more like this.

    Last night 1 AM PST I left a comment on this post, later the comment vanished. Any idea what happened? I included the url for Sisco Identity Services, the video camera in the last video.

  • HonorYourOath

    This is fascinating! I just keep watching these videos over and over again. It just amazes me how afraid of cameras these public officials are! Then they treat you guys like terrorist for simply documenting your request for public records. Great job Carlos you are really on to some entertaining and important activism! The Chandler brothers rock!

  • rick

    I really dig the explanations at the end of each video. The part about running tags was especially informative.
    I’ve been repeatedly telling myself I need to read the penal code of my state. I need to do that and research other areas of the law as introduced above. Thanks!

  • Joel Chandler

    Thanks for the nice post and your coverage of our roadshow. Robert and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit in the Magic City, particularly with such a gracious and knowledgable host. I am looking forward to playing in that sandbox again.

    • Boomer

      Joel, thank you and your brother very much for what you’re doing. It’s just astounding to me what you’ve been able to document here, and my already minimal respect for Law Enforcement has dropped even furhter as a result. Please keep us updated as to what happens next.

      I’d also be sort of interested in what happened at the nine agencies Carlos mentioned who complied with your requests.

      The officer checking on your vehicle tag was just creepy, to say the least. What would Orwell have said?

    • Photog at Large

      Will check the site Carlos listed for you above, but wondered if you or anyone can post an update here at PINAC regarding the above vids and action taken. Thanks, learning more and more from sites like this – plenty of good info and plenty of not so good from our public servants/officials.

  • io-io

    A follow up – what happened? Did you follow up with a lawsuit? Will it be heard any time this decade?

  • the sage

    Video 2…”He gonna’ git da’ majah’ fah’ ya'”