Newspaper Sues for Access to Job Applications

     (CN) — The Memphis Commercial Appeal claims in court that the city’s police department refuses to hand over job applications for police chief candidates.
     The Memphis-based newspaper sued the City of Memphis and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, or IACP, on Tuesday in Shelby County, Tenn.
     Commercial Appeal reporter Ryan Poe requested “copies of all applications for the position of Chief of Police of the City of Memphis,” according to the 10-page complaint.
     In a June 13 email to Memphis’ chief communications officer, Poe asked, “Do you have an ETA on when I could get those police director applications I requested late last week?”
     The officer said IACP was handling the application process, so the city didn’t have the applications and would not be giving them out for media review, according to the complaint.
     A reply to a June 20 follow-up email allegedly said, “Sorry, we don’t have any documents responsive to your request.”
     Poe didn’t get any response to a phone call or email asking IACP for the job applications, according to the Commercial Appeal’s lawsuit.
     The newspaper claims the applications are public record under state law and that no exemptions apply that would prevent their disclosure.
     “The City of Memphis and the recruiter it hired to find and evaluate candidates for the city’s new chief of police have willfully refused to allow Memphis citizens access to clearly public records — the applications of those under consideration for the highest law enforcement position in the city,” the complaint states. “These refusals were made in blatant disregard of decades of settled Tennessee law and in disregard for the most basic notions of accountability of public servants.”
     The Commercial Appeal alleges violation of the Tennessee Public Records Act for the city’s refusal to provide the requested records. It seeks immediate access to the job applications.
     The newspaper is represented by Lucian Pera of Adams & Reese LLP in Memphis.
     A spokeswoman for the Memphis Police Department said it cannot comment on pending litigation.

%d bloggers like this: