Public Access Opinion 19-005

Disclosure of Police Department’s Calendar

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 19-005
Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Chicago Police Department (Department) violated FOIA by improperly denying a request for a copy of one of the Department’s work schedule calendars.

On January 28, 2019, the Petitioner (an individual) requested a copy of “2019 Extradition Calendar Unit 166 – January 2019” – a work schedule for employees in the Department’s extradition section. On February 11, 2019, the Department denied the request, stating that “extradition monthly calendars contain recommendations regarding assignments and are not an official CPD document” and so it was being withheld as predecisional or draft material under FOIA Section 7(1)(f). The Petitioner then submitted a Request for Review to the PAC.

The PAC reviewed Section 7(1)(f) of FOIA, which exempts from disclosure “preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated.” The PAC noted that while this exemption is intended to protect the communications process and encourage frank and open discussion among agency employees before a final decision is made, it does not exempt purely factual material from disclosure unless the factual material is inextricably intertwined with predecisional and deliberative communications. The Department asserted that the extradition calendar is predecisional because it is constantly updated and entries frequently change. It also asserted the calendar is deliberative because it forms the basis for a final decision by the sergeant. After reviewing the extradition calendar itself, the PAC found that even if the calendar is subject to revision and is used to make final decisions, the calendar does not provide insight into the Department’s deliberative process or inhibit candid communications concerning the formulation of any policy. Plus, the PAC added, the January 2019 calendar would have been finalized by the time the Department needed to respond to the FOIA request. As a result, the PAC ordered the Department to disclose the extradition calendar to the Petitioner.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.