Our agency has been embroiled with a small group of residents at one of our high rise buildings. This has included 5 Civil Rights Complaints with the State.
My question is that in my monthly board packet I redact the names of the complainants out of a concern for privacy. I have a Commissioner that maintains that FOIA does not prohibit the names being made public in the board packet and I should go ahead and not edit those names out. Even though we are not under a FOIA request, we are under an investigation and I would not want to violate the complainants privacy or jeopardize the investigation. I am also concerned about any potential liability issues to the agency and or officers.
I would say that any "Open" investigation must have some confidentiality to it until it is completed and then action is either taken or not taken. So my thought is that, regardless of FOIA, it would be no different in my opinion of a pending case with the police or similar to a journalist protecting its source until such time as disclosure is warranted or even appropriate, if ever.
The backlash of releasing names of complainants could be unwarranted harassment.
I use an Affidavit form for written complaints so that the person swearing it out attests that they would testify about it in a court of law before I even investigate.
Maybe a form like this would make it more clear, if you don't already have one, that the complaint is part of an investigation the moment you receive it.
Have a great day!
Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials169 Templar, Pinckney, Michigan 48169 Phone: 734.498.2493 Fax: 734.498.8415 firstname.lastname@example.org