Municipal Signature Pages

The 2012 Muncipal Retention and Disposition Schedule has been out for over one and a half months now.  In that time, we’ve received 65 copies signature pages, which we keep filed away in the Records Center.  That means that 65 (out of 522) of North Carolina’s municipalities have adopted the most recent version of the Municipal Retention and Disposition Schedule.  We expect to receive more, as more municipal governing boards hold their meetings for the month of November.

Why is it so important to have the most up-to-date version of the schedule approved?  Simply put, new kinds of records are created all the time, and while we do our best to keep up with them, we don’t have as close knowledge of the details of records as do the people who work with them every day.  In between each of our revisions, we get in contact with municipal employees, and make sure that the retention periods we assign reflect your needs.  If you haven’t signed the new schedule, and you have records that aren’t listed on the old one, you can’t destroy those records.

How does the new schedule get approved for each municipality?  The governing board has to sign and approve it in an open meeting.  The FAQ at the beginning of the municipal schedule puts it this way:

Q. How do I get it approved?

A. This schedule must be approved by the governing board of your town or city for use in your municipality.

That approval should be made in a regular meeting and recorded as an action in the minutes. It may be done as part of the consent agenda, by resolution, or other action.

After doing that, please send a copy of the signature page to Carie Chesarino, via email (carolyn.chesarino@ncdcr.gov) or fax (919-715-3627). We will keep a copy of the page on file. That way, if one of your coworkers, or a successor, needs to know which version of the Municipal Retention and Disposition Schedule you’re using, we’ll be able to tell you.

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2 thoughts on “Municipal Signature Pages

  1. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), currently uses technology in a variety of ways including predictive policing, in-car video recording, license plate readers, wide-area acoustic gunfire detection systems, GPS to track suspects, closed circuit surveillance cameras, web data extraction software, and portable wireless video streaming cameras.

    Concerns have been raised by the U.S. Supreme Court and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union over issues including policies, practices, and procedures for storing, accessing, and sharing data obtained by these new technologies being employed by police departments.

    What guidance is provided by the State retention guidelines regarding, “How long should data being stored?”, “When must data be discarded?”, “For what purposes may or may not data be accessed?”, “Who may access the data and what procedures must they go through to obtain access to the data?”, and “What types of data is allowed to be shared?”

    Paul S. Paskoff, Director
    Research & Planning Division
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
    601 East Trade Street
    Charlotte, NC 28202
    Tele: 704-336-2162
    Cell: 704-621-1214
    Email: ppaskoff@cmpd.org
    Web: http://www.cmpd.org

  2. Thanks so much for your comment! I’ll try to address each of your questions below.

    Data, whether it’s in an electronic or physical format, is a public record. We determine how long to keep things, who may access data and why, etc., by content, rather than by format. So, as far as how long data should be stored, what function does it serve, and does that function tie into an existing record series? In other words, how would you treat that information if it were being collected in an analog format? For example, data from a license plate reader would be subject to the same access rules and retention periods as if a bystander wrote down the license plate number and gave it to your department. I recommend looking at the Municipal Retention Schedule here and seeing what applies, to determine how long you have to keep them. If you find any records that don’t fit into any of the series in the schedule, please give me a call and we can work on amending it.

    There is no period of time after which you must destroy a public record once it’s reached its retention period; however, it’s strongly advisable. For one thing, data (especially audio and video) is expensive, and for another, it will be easier to prove that you are being responsible with the use of your data if you are disposing of data that is no longer valuable in a timely fashion. (A good example of this is recordings of 911 phone calls. After the mandated 30-day period, it doesn’t make sense to keep any recordings that aren’t involved in an investigation.)

    As far as accessibility goes, General Statute 132-1.4 says,

    Records of criminal investigations conducted by public law enforcement agencies, records of criminal intelligence information compiled by public law enforcement agencies […] are not public records as defined by G.S. 132-1.

    So, any data that is part of an investigation, or was gathered “to anticipate, prevent, or monitor possible violations of the law,” does not have to be disclosed. You certainly can disclose the data if you want to, as long as it isn’t confidential through another statute. Otherwise, records that fall under G.S. 132-1.4 should be treated as confidential records.

    Finally, to discuss the concerns raised in the courts: our function in working with Government Records is to help you comply with the law as it currently stands in statute and in case law. Technology is changing the way that governments do business, but it takes time before legislators and the courts interpret it. For example, we don’t yet have a ruling in North Carolina on whether metadata associated with an electronic record is part of the record or not, although we expect, based on other state courts, that it is. Especially where electronic records are concerned, you should keep your records with the expectation that your recordkeeping practices will be challenged in court in the future. Any local recordkeeping policies should be developed in consultation with your attorney, because ultimately, that person will be responsible for defending them if they are challenged.

    If you have further questions, please reply, or contact me by email or phone. I’d be happy to discuss any concerns that you have.

    Emily Hanna
    Local Records Management Analyst

    N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
    4615 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC 27699-4615

    (919) 807-7360

    emily.hanna@ncdcr.gov

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