How to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
Why would you want to do a FOIA request.
If you have found yourself targeted by police, for that matter any public official you will find it empowering to have their record in office. They know everything about you, which is were some of their power comes from so why shouldn't you know about that official. Some other reasons for a FOIA could be.
- you’ve had a negative interaction with a police employee
- you seek information about a police employee or a police policy
Or you simply just want information on any official cause you can.
Legislation in every state and on the federal level mandates that certain information (that not deemed to conflict with “national security” or “private”, such as health records, or part of ongoing litigation) created by and retained by government agents must be provided upon request. This is known as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Others names include in certain states (i.e. a “Right to Know Request” in NH or “Freedom of Access Act” in ME). Almost every jurisdiction varies but it's generally known as a FOIA request.
Requests need to be done in writing, once submitted, government agency’s have to provide you with the information. It will take usually between three-20 days although those times may vary.. Keep in mind a reason must be provided if they refuse. – the burden is on the government. There are occasions when you may receive a written request to extent beyond the normal time range. You will find it more a statement than a request. The more information you have which is why you always want to film the Police the more-likely lies, omissions, and misinformation made by “the authorities” can be uncovered. You can write a request using a pen on a piece of paper. Some police Departments will tell you that your FOIA request must be presented by form, which you will find are often missing or they are out of. This is a good example of the information you will want to present within your FOIA.
- To Whom It May Concern:This document is to serve as a Freedom of Information Act request. Please provide to me any and all content, including but not limited to dash-cam video and related audio, dispatcher logs, police reports, internal memos, related departmental policies, from the incident that occurred on DATE at LOCATION involving YOUR NAME & CASE NUMBER/CHARGES IF KNOWN.
- Also, please include any and all information related to the number, date, and outcome of complaints made against POLICE EMPLOYEE NAME/BADGE NUMBER. YOUR NAME PRINTED YOUR PHONE NUMBER YOUR MAILING ADDRESS
Since it appears you have a computer or you would not be reading this I would highly recommend downloading the more official looking template here. FOIA request template shared by Virginia Cop Block. Make sure to film the exchange or have a friend accompany you who can film.
Depending on your State and or county you might be able to get the request notarized which I would highly recommend as it makes the request appear extremely legal.