Albion Fire settles APRA lawsuit

Albion Fire settles APRA lawsuit

LINCOLN – Friday morning, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that the Albion Fire District settled a lawsuit after the department violated Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act.

The fire district, according to Kilmartin, acknowledged the violation, after Albion Fire failed to submit a form certifying that an individual had been trained in APRA, a requirement by statute. A $1,000 fine will be paid under the settlement, according to a release.

On Jan. 20, 2015, the Office of the Attorney General notified Albion Fire District that the office did not have the APRA certification form, a requirement by APRA, for calendar year 2015. On Feb. 6 and Feb. 24, the attorney general sent two additional notices, stating that the certification form still hadn’t been submitted, though Albion Fire said the form was being sent in.

Kilmartin’s office received the certification on March 3, 2015, after an investigation, and the office filed a lawsuit on Oct. 25, 2015, in Rhode Island Superior Court.

Rhode Island law states that every public body is required to have at least one person trained and authorized to award or reject all APRA requests for that public body, and that individual “is assigned to this role by the Chief Administrative Officer of the public body.”

Certification for each calendar year must be submitted to the Office of the Attorney General by Jan. 1 of the current year.

According to a release from Kilmartin’s office, “If an individual has become authorized to coordinate APRA requests during the calendar year, he/she must complete the training and return proof of certification to the Office of Attorney General within one month of the designation.”

Kilmartin continued, “My Office makes it very easy for individuals to be properly trained in our open government laws, from our annual Open Government Summit to our year-round online training, as well as by providing in-house training to public bodies upon request. There is simply no reason for any public body to not be in compliance with the training requirement of the APRA and to certify its compliance.”