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December 23, 2013

Rescue Squad violates Open Records Act

Family of missing man seeks documentation of investigation

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The London-Laurel County Rescue Squad has come under fire recently for violating the Kentucky Open Records Act.

The decision from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office was handed down on Dec. 13, stating the local agency did not release public records regarding a search for a man missing on Laurel Lake in July 2012.

On behalf of the family of Clarence Holmes,  Attorney William P. Joslin requested “any reports” regarding the search efforts. Holmes disappeared from a pontoon boat on July 3, 2012, following a storm that struck near Holly Bay Marina. The document released by the Attorney General’s Office states that Joslin’s request, dated Aug. 15, 2013, also asked for “copies of any other books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, discs, diskettes, recordings, software, or other documentation....that was created or consulted during the course of this investigation.”

According to the Attorney General report, Joslin spoke with Larry Vanhook, chief of the London-Laurel County Rescue Squad on September 3. During that conversation, Vanhook indicated he would send some of the documents by the end of the week, but was waiting on “legal clearance” to release other records. However, when Joslin had received no such documents by September 16, he allegedly sent another letter to Vanhook.

When no records still arrived, Joslin filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office that the rescue squad had violated the Open Records Act by not complying with his request.

According to Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 61,880(1), a public agency must supply a written explanation on why specific records cannot be released.  Since there is no documentation that the records were ever sent to Joslin, the Attorney General’s Office found the rescue squad to be in violation of the Open Records Act and sent a letter to the rescue squad indicating that decision.

Under the Act, the rescue squad now has 30 days to either comply with Joslin’s request and provide the requested records, or 30 days to file an appeal regarding the decision.

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