Public Access Opinion 18-011

Duty to Respond to FOIA Requests

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 18-011
Date: Monday, September 10, 2018

A village police department (Department) violated FOIA by failing to comply with, deny in whole or in part, or otherwise appropriately respond to a FOIA request. On May 17, 2018, the Requestor submitted a FOIA request to the Department seeking electronic copies of reports generated concerning three named individuals and one specific address. On May 30, 2018, the Requestor submitted a Request for Review PAC alleging the Department had not responded to her FOIA request, even though she had sent them two follow-up emails and made three follow-up phone calls. The PAC’s own correspondence to the Department went unanswered, so an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) with the PAC telephoned the Department. A Department employee answered the phone and stated the police chief had been out of the office for weeks and the secretary was also out. The AAG left a message but no one from the Department returned the AAG’s call. As of the opinion’s date, the Department had not responded to the PAC.

The PAC held that the Department’s failure to respond to the Requestor violated Section 3(d) of FOIA and it ordered the Department to immediately provide the Requestor with all responsive records, subject only to any permissible redactions under Section 7.

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