GREENSBURG – Indiana’s top public records expert encouraged civility and cooperation from government officials and residents to avoid antagonistic situations when residents request public records or want to speak at public meetings.
“The best way to have an open exchange … is through cooperation,” said Luke Britt, Indiana’s public access counselor, an office that is publicly funded and provides advice and assistance concerning Indiana’s public access laws to members of the public and government officials and their employees.
Britt, appointed by Gov. Mike Pence in August, was at Greensburg’s City Hall Friday morning to give a presentation about the Open Door Law and the Access to Public Records Act and to answer questions from government officials and residents. About 30 people attended, including city and county officials and people who had filed complaints with Britt’s office.
Britt’s office also publishes advisory opinions regarding access to public records and Indiana’s Open Door law — though he cannot compel public agencies to provide records to residents or to open meetings to them. Only a court can force a public agency to disclose a record or provide access to a meeting.
Britt previously served as an attorney and operations manager for the Indiana State Department of Health and as an attorney for the Department of Child Services, but said that he is not beholden to any political party or office but acts independently and is simply charged with interpreting the law.
Britt said recently that he sometimes receives invitations from communities around the state to provide general information about access to public records, but he decided to give a presentation in Greensburg because he had received about a dozen complaints from the Greensburg area in the last few months and has issued three or four advisory opinions on complaints from the area.