When the Community Services District Security Department announced a hit-and-run driver was going to make restitution for damage he caused to the front yard of a Rancho Murieta home recently, some people wanted Security to release the driver’s name.
Questions about what’s public information arise regularly in Rancho Murieta.
The California Public Records Act guarantees citizens access to records held by governmental agencies, including special districts like the CSD. But it doesn’t apply to homeowners' associations, like the Rancho Murieta Association. And other laws cover criminal incidents and charges and offer limitations and guarantees on public access.
CSD officials recently answered questions about what Security does -- and doesn’t -- make public through communications and the release of its daily department logs.
What is Security’s policy about naming names?
Security Chief Greg Remson: “Our policy is now and always has been that we do not release to the public names of victims, suspects, arrested people. We do not release addresses. ... We do the same as other communities that have security and homeowners associations. They don’t release names either. They don’t even release the names of the people they arrest if they make arrests for drunk driving or something like that. ... How do you decide whose name to put in, whose name not to, whose address? So we don’t put any of them in (the security logs). If someone really wants to know about a crime that’s resulted in an arrest or a crime report, then they can contact the Sheriff’s Department or the CHP to get that information. I’m not sure that’s our venue or responsibility to do that.”
Director Steve Mobley, member of the Security Committee: “The information’s there. You’ll just have to go to another location to get it. ... You’d have to ask the CHP that. If it’s a hit and run, I’m sure they’ll release that. ... It’s public information. I can’t see us doing that, or RMA. And that’s right in the middle of a criminal investigation. Can’t do that. ... It’s just not going to be available here because it’s not our arrest reports.”
General Manager Ed Crouse: “We’re trying to respect the privacy of the individual involved, both the victim and the, quote, suspect, if there is one. We acknowledge that Rancho Murieta is unique in that there is a small minority of the community that would like to publicly humiliate, pillory, the suspects, and then there’s a small percentage that live in a private community because it’s private and they feel that there’s no laws that can affect them behind the gates so they like to have free rein. Then there’s the middle group, 80 percent, that really just, ‘I’m here to live and enjoy the community, and leave me alone.’ So we’re trying to respect the majority of the people that truly value their privacy. And we’re following just the general practices of the majority of the private communities.”
What is the function of the Security logs, and how much information is shared?
Remson: “We’ll give a broad description of the event and that’s it. The questions that come up periodically are how much information should we give to the community, how much information is needed. So we struggle with that all the time.”
Crouse: The goal of the logs is to provide the community with basic information on “the types of service and the calls for service that we respond to.”
Remson: “We’re not going to write half a page on each incident. ... The goal is to give a brief rundown of an incident and that’s it. ... They’re a brief snapshot of an incident.”
Should Security report the Sheriff’s Department’s response to incidents?
Remson was asked about a May 27 incident where sheriff’s deputies responded to a home on Domingo Drive. The entry in the security logs lists it as an “SSD assist” with a request to block off the street and describes the incident as a “disturbance,” not as substantial as the report on RanchoCordovaPost.com that said a gun had been fired and a man was arrested.
Remson: “We got bits and pieces of that information, but not enough that I could comfortably write that in the log. We were told it was an air soft gun. ... We have to rely on the Sheriff’s Department ... If they don’t feel it’s a serious enough incident to let us know, then we have to take their expertise on that. ... We don’t go through arrest records. We can only report as best we can when it occurs.”
A citizen who wanted to look into the incident would have to go to the Sheriff’s Department downtown to request the information. An employee there said a person requesting information would be required to show identification. The law requires basic information to be released, not the full arrest report.
In the May 27 incident, Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Sharon Chow said the Sheriff’s Department responded to a call about 10:44 p.m. from a woman at a home on Domingo Drive who said her husband was drunk and had a gun that she believed he had fired in the bedroom when he was alone. Deputies arrived, made announcements from outside the home, got no response and eventually went inside, where they found the man passed out on the couch.
He was charged with domestic violence, making threats, and discharge of a firearm within a dwelling, Chow said, although the firearm was found to be an air gun. “It’s still a weapon,” Chow said.
Where is information available?
- The Sheriff's Department's records office is at 711 G St., Sacramento.
- Rancho Murieta's Security logs are available for inspection at the CSD Building, but key information -- names and addresses -- are blacked out. Those logs are published by RanchoMurieta.com. The River Valley Times publishes an abbreviated version.
- The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department has an online crime-mapping program but doesn’t provide a daily summary of police activity, unlike the Elk Grove Police Department, which summarizes incidents and identifies adults who have been arrested in a daily watch summary online.