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Alameda County Fire Department Challenges Public Records Request Relating to Park Street Armed Robbery

Alameda County Deputy Fire Chief David Lord has challenged Action Alameda News’ request for public records relating to a December 1st, 2011 armed robbery of La Pencul Azul on Park Street. The Alameda County Fire Department dispatches paramedics and fire crews in the City of Alameda.

Sources, who refuse to speak on the record, have told Action Alameda News that the popular Mexican eatery was robbed at gunpoint in December, and that the robber stole also from restaurant patrons. Sources that spoke to Action Alameda News have suggested that authorities in Alameda are worried that publicizing news of the robbery may adversely impact business on Park Street. Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan has denied any cover-up on behalf of his department, and has offered to provide details on the case in person over the coming week.

However, Yvonne Cropp, an Alameda Police Records Supervisor, has denied a public records request for copies of recordings of emergency 9-1-1 calls to the Alameda Communications Dispatch Center. Ms. Cropp claimed an unspecified exemption from disclosure for these records from the California Public Records Act. Action Alameda News’ position is that the records are not exempt, and the Alameda Police Department must cite specific exemptions in state law, or otherwise provide the records requested. Action Alameda News had hoped to use the official records provided by the Alameda Police Department to confirm reports from our sources. It’s common for police to release 9-1-1 recordings to the media.

Additionally, Action Alameda News made a public records request to the Alameda County Fire Department for any records pertaining to the event. Alameda County Deputy Fire Chief David Lord twice insisted that the City of Alameda must be aware and/or give permission for him to release the records, because the City of Alameda contracts with the county for services.

As a public agency in possession of records, the Alameda County Fire Department is obligated to release them in response to a lawful public records request, or cite the applicable exemptions under state law. There are no exemptions in the public records act stating that one public agency has to give permission to another to release public records.

Last year, Action Alameda News had difficulty getting access to public records through Deputy Chief Lord regarding the Raymond Zack drowning. Action Alameda News has contacted our attorney and the Alameda County Counsel in regards to this matter.

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