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FLCGA assists Miami Herald reporter obtain details of FBI arrest

Research Assistant CD Davidson-Hiers

When the Miami Springs Police Department tweeted that a local resident was “taken into custody by FBI agents without incident,” Theo Karantsalis, a freelance reporter for the Miami Herald, wanted to know more. But his request for the police report was denied. Officials cited an ongoing investigation.

That didn’t sound accurate to Karantsalis, who was searching for the reason for the arrest. So he contacted the Florida Center for Government Accountability for help.

Under Florida law, government agencies cannot cite an “active criminal investigation” as reason not to produce any of the records in their possession, FLCGA Director of Public Access Michael Barfield said. Agencies are required to redact certain information, but produce the rest of the requested record even during an ongoing criminal investigation.

Barfield said the Center helped Karantsalis reframe the request and assisted to “remind the agency of their obligation (under Florida law) to redact any information” department officials insisted would have jeopardized the investigation.

The resulting story described an incident of long-distance cyberstalking, including threats the suspect “would kill the victim’s children, her family, her dog, and then kill her last,” according to a criminal complaint finally obtained by the Miami Herald.

Karantsalis said he was grateful for the help figuring out how to challenge the denial of his records request. The FLCGA, “is there to help,” he said. “Sometimes you need to ask in a certain way.”

The Miami Herald story can be found here.