On April 10, 2023, KCE made a public records request to the Kenosha Police Department. On April 19, 2023, our request was denied by the Department’s Public Information Office. That same day, we filed suit in Kenosha County Circuit Court, because we believed the denial was not lawful.
I immediately made contact with the City’s Attorney, Matt Knight. Knight accepted service on behalf of the City, which saved about $210. In the coming weeks, Knight and Kenosha Police Chief Patrick Patton reviewed the court documents and determined that the denial was not proper and that KCE was entitled to the documents. While the Police Chief was unaware of our request or denial, he said that he takes responsibility for the error as the law enforcement agency’s leader. Patton said he wants the Kenosha Police Department to be as transparent as allowed by law, but wants to make sure victims are protected. He has made good on his promise. Earlier this year, Patton, along with Sheriff Zoerner, agreed to a sweeping change to how it shares its raw law enforcement data with the local media outlets. The data is shared daily with the local media.
The very same day that Judge Bruce Schroeder signed an order approving our agreement with the City, KCE was provided with the documents by the Kenosha Police Department. The agreement also called for the City to pay KCE’s legal expenses of $184.50. Although KCE was also entitled to $100 in damages, we agreed to only accept $1 for a few reasons. First off, this denial was not made with malice, like we’ve seen many times before. The KPD public information office handles many requests and the public records laws and precedents are ambiguous. KCE has had very few issues in the last 11 years with KPD. Also, the City Attorney and Police Chief released the records immediately. They could have fought with us in court for months like Salem Lakes or Kenosha County. They could have let their egos get the better of them. They didn’t. The City taxpayers paid me $184.50 plus $1. In the case of Kenosha County, their legal bill, that the taxpayers will foot, is likely approaching $10,000. All to hide the voice of a former politician, Ted Kmiec.
Thank you to the City of Kenosha Police Chief and City Attorney Matt Knight for wrapping this up quickly. I wish others would learn from you.