Public Records, 911 Calls, Citizens' Letters
The Iowa Public Records
Law states that the public must have access to the records of
governmental agencies such as the monthly reports we post on this
website (see the two top links at the right). The law goes on
to define what may be withheld from the public as
A summary of the law and subsequent Attorney General
bulletins applicable to law enforcement agencies give us three
filters through which we decide what is and what is not public
records, documents, tape, or other information, stored or preserved in
any medium that contain no confidential information are open
records and must be released on request, except:
2. Records which are part of an open Investigation of a crime or
incident are permitted to be withheld from the public as
confidential, but the "date, time, specific
location and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the crime or
incident" may not be kept confidential, except:
3. When disclosure of the "date, time, specific location and
immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the crime or incident"
would plainly and seriously jeopardize an open investigation or pose a
clear and present danger to a person's safety, even that information
may be withheld as confidential.
(The above is the author's interpretation of the law; for details of the law, see
the links at the above right.)
Letters (Including Emails) from the Public
There is further protection for
citizens who send us letters or
emails, from the Attorney General's bulletin:
Many citizen letters are considered open records.
In fact, such letters must be available for examination and copying by
others, if any of the following are true: (1) the person making the
communication consents to disclosure; or (2) information in the
communication can be disclosed without identifying the person who sent
it; or, (3) information in the communication discloses facts
surrounding a crime or illegal act, unless the disclosure would
jeopardize an investigation or pose a danger to others. (Iowa Code
section 22.7 (18).)
In some cases, citizen letters may
be kept confidential.
A public agency in Iowa may have discretion to keep communications from
the public confidential, if all of the following are true: (1) the
communication comes from a person outside of government; and (2) the
communication is voluntary and not required by any law, rule or
procedure; and (3) the government body could reasonably believe the
public would be discouraged from communicating if the communications
were available for public examination and copying.
Citizens who write to government
bodies should be aware that their letters could be open for examination
and copying by others.
If confidentiality is important, citizens would be wise to say so in
their letters. Government bodies can make better decisions about
disclosing letters from the public if citizens communicate clearly
of the information accessed through this website are reports of the
activities of the Dallas Center Police Department which are public information by Iowa law and are posted here for the public's convenience. No judgments should be made, nor should
actions be taken, based solely on this information.
utmost effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the
information, neither the Dallas Center Police Department nor the City
Dallas Center makes any warranty, representation or guaranty regarding
its content, accuracy, timeliness or completeness.