New Law Expands Public Disclosure Exemptions for Certain Public Personnel

 

As provided by s. 119.071, Florida Statutes, certain information maintained by Florida government agencies is exempt from public disclosure.  

 

This law provides for the exemption of home addresses and telephone numbers from public disclosure for certain occupational groups, such as law enforcement officers, judges, magistrates, state attorneys, public defenders, assistant criminal conflict and civil regional counsel, child abuse investigators, etc. The full list can be viewed under s. 119.071, Florida Statutes, on the Florida Legislature’s website at www.leg.state.fl.us.

 

Recently, the Governor signed into law SB 248 from the 2019 legislative session that adds “former or active civilian employees who work for a law enforcement agency” to the exempt occupational group identified in 119.071(4)(d)(2)(a), and broadens the definition of “home address” for that group.

 

Under this new definition, exempt personnel can request that their “physical address, mailing address, street address, parcel identification number, plot identification number, legal property description, neighborhood name and lot number, GPS coordinates, and other descriptive property information that may reveal home address” be redacted from agency records, including the Official Records of Polk County, which are maintained by the Polk County Clerk’s office. 

 

Qualifying individuals must submit an exemption request through the Official Records Department of the Polk County Clerk & Comptroller’s office.  The updated exemption request form is available on the Clerk’s website under the Official Records section of the Forms & Documents Center at  http://www.polkcountyclerk.net/forms-documents/.

 

Based upon the exemption request, the specific “home address” information identified by the requestor will be redacted from the documents identified by the requestor.  A request must be completed each time there are new records to be redacted.  Because redactions may affect future online property searches, requestors may want to obtain certified copies of the unredacted records when submitting the request.  This will afford immediate access to unredacted records if there is a future need.  For example, unredacted records may be required for real proceedings involving real estate. 

 

Alternatively, a Request to Release Redacted Information can be completed by anyone who has redacted their home address.  This Request directs the Clerk to release the unredacted information to a particular person or entity identified on the form.  Examples include a specific title company or a particular law firm.  The Request form is available under the Official Records section of the Forms & Documents Center at http://www.polkcountyclerk.net/forms-documents/.  Once it is received, our office will process it within the normal course of business. 

 

The Exemption Request and Release forms can be submitted in-person or via mail to the Official Records Department:

 

Polk County Clerk & Comptroller

Official Records Department, First Floor

255 N. Broadway Ave.

P.O. Box 9000, Drawer CC-8

Bartow, FL 33830