Md. court rules in alarm company’s favor

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, January 1, 2004

January 1 , 2004

BALTIMORE - In December, the Maryland Court of Appeals gave a boost to Alexandria, Va.-based Police Patrol Security Systems’ attempt to gain access to Prince George’s County’s alarm subscriber list.

The court ruled that a county ordinance alone may not be the basis for an exemption to the general public disclosure obligations of the Maryland Public Information Act. The decision reverses an earlier court’s ruling against Police Patrol, which has been trying for two years to obtain the county’s list, which the company has said it wants to use for marketing purposes.

Police Patrol sued the county under the Maryland Public Information Act after it denied the company’s request for its alarm-subscriber list. A circuit court ruled in favor of Prince George’s County, spurring Police Patrol’s appeal.

Police Patrol had already requested and obtained similar information from Montgomery County, Md., as well as Fairfax and Arlington Counties in Virginia.

In the ruling, Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote: “No public record may be considered confidential or privileged unless a basis for that is found in one of those enumerated sources of law … Local ordinances are not among those sources.”

Harrell noted that those sources that may create exemptions include the state and federal constitutions and the Maryland Declaration of Rights.

The case must now go back to the county, Harrell wrote, because the court could not determine “what the county would have done had it known its initial and, until appeal, sole justification was legally insufficient.”

Attorney Dean Knowles, who argued Police Patrol’s case on appeal, could not be reached for comment by the SSN Newswire deadline. He told The (Baltimore) Daily Record that Police Patrol would follow up with its original request and then see whether the county honors the request or changes its reason for denying it. He did not rule out another trip to circuit court if the request proves unsuccessful a second time around.

For more on this story, see the February edition of Security Systems News.