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Common Prohibitions and Exemptions for Law Enforcement Records

This page provides information about records disclosure requirements for police and sheriff departments in Washington State, including links to more detailed analysis on whether to disclose certain types of records and information and two sample forms demonstrating potential redactions.

It is part of MRSC's series on Law Enforcement Records Management and Disclosure, created in partnership with the Washington State Auditor's Center for Government Innovation. Always consult with your legal counsel if you are unsure whether a record is exempt or prohibited from disclosure.


Overview

Some law enforcement records are exempt from disclosure (either in whole or in part) under the Public Records Act or other statutes (meaning that the agency has the option to disclose the record but is not required to), some are prohibited from disclosure (meaning that the agency may not disclose the record), and some have no restrictions and must be disclosed when requested. Click on the links below for information about the disclosure requirements for each type of record.


Sample Forms Showing Potential Redactions

MRSC has created two sample police documents to demonstrate information that may (or may not) be exempt or prohibited from disclosure.

Sample Arrest Report. This sample form includes nonconviction data, medical information provided by the suspect, a driver's license number, and a date of birth, as well as references to a dashcam video. Download in PDF

Sample Witness Statement. This sample form includes a witness who is only 17 years old and has requested anonymity. Download in PDF


Last Modified: February 05, 2019