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What's public information?

16 posts in this topic

Can you as a private citizen FOIL (Freedom of Information) the State Police to see if they arrested someone for a crime?

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Can you as a private citizen FOIL (Freedom of Information) the State Police to see if they arrested someone for a crime?

How about a political answer... Yes and No! B)

http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/ojis/recordreview.htm

You may be able to access certain information but criminal histories are maintained by DCJS. A link is provided to their records information.

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What if they're not convicted though. Say for the sake of argument you get assaulted, your attacker goes to the hospital with a police escort but the police won't release any information on the disposition.

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Police escort or police custody are two very different things.

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Exactly why I want to know what happened after they left the scene. Isn't a blotter public info?

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If there was no arrest there's possibly no searchable record. Patient was just escorted it may not be any more than a log in the officers book. NYC its at the most an aided card, same as for the ankle sprain they get flagged for and await EMS.

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I believe you can FOIL an incident report/blotter entry. However, it can be denied for privacy reasons.

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With certain exceptions as defined by law, ALL records maintained by ALL government agencies belong to the PUBLIC and NOT to the government agencies. The government agencies are merely the custodians. This fact is one of the most difficult for government employees and even most members of the public to comprehend.

In the case of an arrest, all police agenices must maintain in some form a record that is available within a reasonable period of time after the arrest, to the public and the media. That record must contain the name, age and address of the person arrested, the charges lodged against that person, the amount of any bond, whether the person was released or is being held and when that person is scheduled to appear in court. While the case remains under investigation, the police are NOT required to disclose any pertinent facts of the case.

By law, anyone should be able to walk into any police station and request the above information without making a formal FOI request, but in most cases, law enforcement does NOT follow the law. They will hassle you and you may be forced to make a formal request. Here in CT where I reside, the state FOI Commission has on several occasions used interns to go out to police departments and other town offices and request to see documents that by law belong to the public, including the aforementioned arrest reports. The results have been dismal. In most cases police and other government officials failed to uphold the law and denied access to information. Of course they were then hauled in for a hearing before the FOI Commission, ordered to release the information, ordered to have all their members attend FOI training and to implement SOP that is compliant with FOI.

Without Freedom of Information, we can not have a free society and we can not be a free people as is guanteed by the US and State constitutions.

SRS131EMTFF, x635 and Alpinerunner like this

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If it is open case/investigation it can be withheld. PD will have a record of medical aid/transport and as long as they didn't provide treatment it doesnt fall under the hipaa regs so it can be disclosed. There are exceptions to all of it such as if the release will:

i. interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings;

ii. deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication;

iii. identify a confidential source or disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation; or

iv. reveal criminal investigative techniques or procedures, except routine techniques and procedures;

(f) if disclosed could endanger the life or safety of any person;

If youre a victim you may seek payback on your perp so "f" could apply. Check out the website NYS Committee on Open Government and give them a call, they are more than helpful and just provided us with some training.

x635 likes this

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With certain exceptions as defined by law, ALL records maintained by ALL government agencies belong to the PUBLIC and NOT to the government agencies. The government agencies are merely the custodians. This fact is one of the most difficult for government employees and even most members of the public to comprehend.

In the case of an arrest, all police agenices must maintain in some form a record that is available within a reasonable period of time after the arrest, to the public and the media. That record must contain the name, age and address of the person arrested, the charges lodged against that person, the amount of any bond, whether the person was released or is being held and when that person is scheduled to appear in court. While the case remains under investigation, the police are NOT required to disclose any pertinent facts of the case.

By law, anyone should be able to walk into any police station and request the above information without making a formal FOI request, but in most cases, law enforcement does NOT follow the law. They will hassle you and you may be forced to make a formal request. Here in CT where I reside, the state FOI Commission has on several occasions used interns to go out to police departments and other town offices and request to see documents that by law belong to the public, including the aforementioned arrest reports. The results have been dismal. In most cases police and other government officials failed to uphold the law and denied access to information. Of course they were then hauled in for a hearing before the FOI Commission, ordered to release the information, ordered to have all their members attend FOI training and to implement SOP that is compliant with FOI.

Without Freedom of Information, we can not have a free society and we can not be a free people as is guanteed by the US and State constitutions.

I don't disagree with you but there are many considerations for why some information is withheld as onthewheel so aptly pointed out. Arrest information may not be public if the case has been sealed by the court, if the charges have been dismissed or withdrawn(depending on the age of the offender), to protect the privacy of the arrestee, and for other reasons. Again, see the link for NYS above.

Yes, we should be able to access government information easily and freely but in law enforcement and criminal justice there are some legitimate reasons to keep it confidential. If the PD refuses to give up their budget that's an issue. If they refuse to give up case reports for ongoing investigations that's 100% OK. "ALL" is a very broad term and not "ALL" government records fall under public information statutes nor should they. You shouldn't be able to walk into the FD and pull the personnel records on the FF, should you?

Oh yeah, some municipalities will charge you for the copies if you do get them.

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Information was finally released before any FOI requests had to be submitted. The proper arrests were made. Thanks all for the help. PS I agree that at the very least a vague blotter should be public information, we're not talking about RICO here, it's DWI

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Information was finally released before any FOI requests had to be submitted. The proper arrests were made. Thanks all for the help. PS I agree that at the very least a vague blotter should be public information, we're not talking about RICO here, it's DWI

I am glad the arrest was made John. I want to hear how this whole tale ends, hopefully for the best, for you.

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Arrest records are public documents. Another idea that came over from Revolutionary times to protect the people from being taken away by the State (police) and disappearing forever.

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There are also the County Jail website. The Westchester County jail has an inmate lookup section that tells you the offenders name, alias, dob, crime arrested for, bail amount and next court date. Even if other county jail websites dont have inmate lookups , you can always call the VINE line at 1-888-VINE4NY. This line tells you if an offender is in custody and if you are a victim of the offender then you can register to be notified upon their release from jail.

The New York State Department of Correction also has an inmate lookup with inmate location and sentencing and parole information.

The Federal Department of Correction has an inmate locator but it doesn't tell you much more than what facility the offender is in.

The New York State Division of Parole also has a parolee lookup section so you can see who is on supervised release.

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Arrest records are not only public records, they will never disappear from the information that a good investigator can obtain about you. Even if you are eventually found not guilty or even exonerated of all charges, the arrest record is still on your record. There are a few cases where a judge can find that the record of an arrest was extremely prejudicial and can choose to have it expunged from your record, but you really have to petition hard for that (unless, of course, you are a minor and those records are generally sealed).

And yes, John Doe can walk in off the street and request the NYSP's arrest records for that Troop/Zone under FOIL. However, they don't necessarily have to do a search for you. You need to know what you're asking for (i.e. all arrest or blotter records from time A to time B) and they only have to provide you the record in the way they store it. In other words, government agencies are not expected to make special reports just to satisfy a FOIL request.

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Check out the FOIL advisory opinions on the website of the NY State Committee on Open Government. There are many legal precedents established already such as the upstate newspaper that sued and won the right to examine police incident blotters.

Also, if somebody is arrested in your neighborhood, go to court the next day and just look on the posted court calendar to determine his/ her identity. Of course, you would need to know the name of the arresting officer and would have to match up the penal code numerical sequence with the crime you are interested in.

FYI: Many communities such as Orlando and Coral Springs, FL are posting detailed blotters online so the public is aware of what is occuring nearby. If police are serious about being proactive, they all should be doing this. The local press barely covers most felonies in Yonkers and elsewhere...so Facebook sites like "Yonkers Isn't Safe" end up being appreciated by the public for the valued crime information posted.

There was also an incident in Eastchester. NY many months ago and it was revealed for the first time that police can in fact release the names of arrested juveniles.

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