Pulse Tragedy Public Records

The City of Orlando is working to respond to the hundreds of Public Records Act requests which were made following the Pulse tragedy.  The City values transparency, but must ensure that the release of records complies with the many Florida law exemptions designed to protect the privacy of the victims and the integrity of the investigation.  The majority of records have been requested by multiple people, organizations or agencies, and to expedite distribution of these requests, those releasable records will be posted here.  If we have had multiple requests for items which are exempt or exempt and confidential under Florida law, the City will also post information relating to the applicable statutory exemption from disclosure on this page as well.  We will continue to fulfill individual requests as the documents become available.   To make a new Public Records Act request, you can submit your request at records.cityoforlando.net.

Currently Available Pulse Related Records (most in PDF format)

Communication/911 Calls for June 12, 2016

 

 

Information about 911 call requests/body camera video & audio:

On June 23, at the direction of Mayor Buddy Dyer, the City of Orlando filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief to get guidance from the court on what public records, specifically 911 calls, related to the Pulse tragedy are releasable.  The City has received voluminous public records requests from the media.  In response to these requests, the City is attempting to satisfy the requirements of state law, the direction from the FBI, the needs of the media and Mayor Dyer’s commitment to be responsive and transparent to the public.

Since the incident on June 12, 2016, Mayor Dyer has encouraged the FBI to release as much information to the public as possible.  While the FBI has released transcripts of some of the 911 calls, the City still maintains hundreds of 911 communications that cannot be released until the City receives guidance from the court.

UPDATE:  As of November 18, 2016, the City has released all 911 records and transcripts in accordance with state law and the court order issued on November 10, 2016.

UPDATE: November 10, 2016 – Since the incident on June 12, 2016, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has encouraged the release of as much information to the public as possible, while honoring the confidentiality protections provided to victims by Florida Statutes.

Under state law, some victim related information can only be released on court order, after a judicial determination balancing the interests of victim privacy and public oversight. The 911 recordings of telephone calls originating from the Pulse nightclub during this incident fell within this statutory protection. After a full hearing and after listening to the tapes themselves, the Court has given the City the direction it sought with respect to these recordings. The Court ordered that some recordings could be released, after redaction of certain personal information. The Court further ordered that to protect the victims and their families, only transcripts of other recordings could be released.

The City is grateful for the work of the Court in reviewing these materials and for the clear direction we have received. The City will immediately begin the process necessary to redact and transcribe the 911 recordings in accordance with the court order and state law and will then release them as quickly as possible.

UPDATE: September 8, 2016 – The Department of Justice and the FBI have advised the City of the FBI’s determination that the 911 calls no longer need to be protected as part of the active criminal investigation into the Pulse nightclub massacre. The City is now reviewing the calls to determine which can be released, and which calls or parts of calls are confidential and exempt from public record pursuant to Florida Statues sections 406.136 and 365.171. There is a significant amount of data that requires review, but we will release the calls we can as soon as possible. This release will occur through our normal public records process. It is anticipated that the review and redaction of these records will take more than 30 minutes, so, pursuant to City policy, a labor fee is imposed. In this case there have been multiple entities that have requested this material, so the City’s records department will work with those individuals and organizations to determine how they want to share the labor costs.

Requests for 911 recordings are controlled by several applicable laws, including:
The first is s. 406.136, Florida Statutes (215), which currently provides in pertinent part:

“A photograph or video, or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and c. 24(a), Art. 1 of the State Constitution….”

This section broadly defines “killing of a person” to mean “all acts or events that cause or otherwise relate to the death of any human being, including any related acts or events immediately preceding or subsequent to the acts or events that were the proximate cause of death.”

Release of records in violation of this confidentiality provision is a third degree felony. In light of this very restrictive statute, the City of Orlando is precluded by law from complying with the request for release of the 911 tapes as well as any body camera video or audio recorded by officers directly involved in the Pulse incident.

Further, the 911 tapes are part of an ongoing active criminal investigation involving several agencies, including the Orlando Police Department, but led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Active criminal investigative information is exempt from the mandatory disclosure provisions of Florida Law, s. 119.071.

Finally, Florida law additionally protects some part of the records, recordings or information that result from a 911 emergency communications.  Specifically, s. 365.171(12)(a), Florida Statutes (2015), provides that:

“Any record, recording, or information, or portions thereof, obtained by a public agency or a public safety agency for the purpose of providing services in an emergency and which reveals the name, address, telephone number, or personal information about, or information which may identify any person requesting emergency service or reporting an emergency by accessing an emergency communications E911 system is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s.119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution….”

Even without the existence of s. 406.136 or any concerns about the integrity of the currently ongoing criminal investigation, please know that the sheer volume of calls to the police and fire department during the relevant three hour period would make the redaction required by s. 365.171(12(a) a lengthy and arduous task. In total there are 603 calls to either the police or fire department during this time frame. Of those calls, 166 are 911 calls (147 police and 19 fire) and there are another 437 calls (234 police and 203 fire). All of these calls may not relate to this incident, but the exigencies related to the investigation, support of victims and families, distribution of information to the media and others, staffing vigils and memorials, managing dignitary protection and coordinating donations and volunteers have taken up so much staff time that a complete analysis of these calls is a task not yet completed by the City.

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