Colorado's open records laws are supposed to keep government officials accountable, but getting documents can mean paying huge fees or becoming tangled in expensive and lengthy legal battles.
In some cases, the cost and difficulty of obtaining records is enough to drive citizens away. In other cases, officials use vague legal standards like "contrary to the public interest" to deny any access.
Critics, meanwhile, note that the same officials who decline requests may also be embarrassed when certain documents become public.
The CALL7 Investigators inspected scores of requests made under open records laws, confronted clerks with hidden cameras and interviewed citizens, officials and legal experts around Colorado.
When asked about their records policies, cities and agencies refused to be interviewed on camera. Throughout months of work, only two officials ever agreed to talk.
Questioning the police
Some of Terrill Johnson's allegations profiling by Denver police officers were sustained, but officials refused to let him see the full report.
The high cost of public information
The CALL7 Investigators found several citizens who were forced to walk away from records requests because of the high fees.
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School violence data never audited, made public
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CPSC launches toy seahorse investigation
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Lawmakers approve government records bill
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Battle between Poudre, parents ended Friday
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No charges for destroying records, DA decides
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Lawmakers consider record fees bill
A bill moving through the state legislature aims to standardize public records fees.
Poudre SD faces criminal complaint
The Fort Collins Police Department is investigating claims the Poudre School District illegally destroyed records.
Poudre SD destroys records, sues family
Poudre School District destroyed records about a special education student, in an attempt to keep them from his family.
Accountant denies criminal Internet use
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City accountant fired over child porn
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District, manager part after CALL7 story
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Complaints against company kept secret
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District probes tax-free club cards
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Company accused of preying on faith
Across the country, customers of a Colorado-based company run by a self-proclaimed "Man of God," say they were left empty-handed…
ACLU suing for Castle Rock PD records
The Colorado ACLU is suing the Castle Rock Police Department for records the police chief refuses to turn over about an officer involved shooting