Open Records

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A judge recently ordered Tuscaloosa County's sheriff to release some crime reports to the public. Now the sheriff has new charges for certain tasks in making copies of reports: $38 per hour.

That's the price for a person or business seeking multiple reports, or if a particular record is simply difficult to find.

Sheriff Ted Sexton started the new public records access policy last Friday, within days of receiving a final court order in an open-records suit filed by The Tuscaloosa News.

The judge placed Sexton under an injunction requiring him to release the front pages of offense reports except when the sheriff or his designee determines that doing so could hamper an ongoing investigation.

Under Sexton's new policy, he charges $1 per page and a $38 per-hour fee if it takes longer than 15 minutes to find the reports and copy them.

Charging a nominal copying fee for copies is normal for government agencies throughout Alabama.