FOIA: CPD Record Types

CPDThis request to Chicago Police Department (CPD) in one in a series of FOIA requests aimed at getting a better understanding of the data and records the CPD maintains and in what format they maintain it. There is section within the FOIA law that requires public bodies to maintain a list of the types of records they maintain. This should allow the public to better understand the overall operations of these agencies.  To date the responses we have received has all be really poorly produced without any mention of any records related to the digital communications of their staff. We hope our response from the CPD is better than what we have received to this point

The CPD is a very large and complex agency with around 13,000 sworn officers as well as a large number of civilian employees. The CPD also maintains a sophisticated intelligence unit which conducts significant surveillance operations. Their response to this FOIA should allow us to understand the depth of their data collection activities.

CJP will be producing original content based on the responses we get from the 9 criminal justice agencies.

FOIA Content

To: Chicago Police Department
Subject: Chicago Justice Project FOIA – All Record Types

In accordance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140, I request that your office provide the following public records:

  1. A list of all types or categories of records currently under the Chicago Police Department’s Control, as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.
  2. A description of the manner in which public records stored by means of electronic data processing may be obtained from the Chicago Police Department (in a form comprehensible to persons lacking knowledge of computer language or printout format), as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.

INSTRUCTIONS
If the agency believes they are going to withhold any document or information pertinent to the requests made herein, please identify the document or information in as much detail as is possible and detail in specific language why each document or piece of information is being withheld.

If any information requested herein is withheld on the basis of a claim of privilege or subject to protection as material prepared in anticipation of litigation or trial, then that claim shall be made expressly in a writing that describes the nature of the Documents, Communications, or Things not produced or disclosed in a manner that will enable us to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection. With regard to each claim of privilege or protection, the following information should be provided in the response or the objection:

(a) the type of Document, e.g., letter or memorandum;
(b) general subject matter of the Document;
(c) the date of the Document; and
(d) such other information as is sufficient to identify the Document for a subpoena duces tecum, including, where appropriate, the author, addressee, and any other recipient of the Document, and, where not apparent, the relationship of the author, addressee, and any other recipient to each other.

If any Document or Thing identified herein has been lost, discarded, or destroyed, each such Document or Thing should be identified as completely as possible, including as to each such Document or Thing, its date, general nature (e.g., letter, memorandum, telegram, telex, photograph, computer printout), subject matter, each author or originator, each person indicated as an addressee or copy recipient, and its former custodian(s). In addition, as to each such Document or Thing, the following information shall be supplied:

(a) date of disposal, loss, or destruction;
(b) manner of disposal, loss, or destruction;
(c) reason for disposal or destruction, or any explanation of loss;
(d) persons authorizing the disposal or destruction;
(e) persons having knowledge of the disposal, destruction, or loss; and
(f) persons who destroyed, lost, or disposed or the Document or Thing.

I look forward to hearing from you in writing within five working days, as required by the Act 5 ILCS 140(3). Please direct all questions or responses to this FOIA request to this email address by responding to this email.

Updates

7/28 – They denied our request in probably the hall of fame of ridiculous responses. The CPD says that our request of a public record they are mandated within the FOIA law to maintain is overly burdensome.

Read the CPD reply for yourself:  P590724_Response_Letter.docx

7/13 – In accordance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140, I request that your office provide the following public records: 1. A list of all types or categories of records currently under the Chicago Police Department’s Control, as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5. 2. A description of the manner in which public records stored by means of electronic data processing may be obtained from the Chicago Police Department (in a form comprehensible to persons lacking knowledge of computer language or printout format), as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.

FOIA requires each public body to promptly respond to a request for public records, either by complying or denying the request, within 5 business days after the public body has received the request. Under the Freedom of Information Act, a public body may extend the time to respond to a FOIA request by up to 5 business days.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor’s issuance of a disaster proclamation, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is taking preventive measures in attempt to control the spread of the virus. Therefore, the CPD has chosen to allow Department members assigned to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Unit to work remotely and has partially closed its office due to sworn members assigned to administrative duties being deployed to the field for public safety. In addition, as more and more individuals become ill or come into contact with someone infected with COVID-19 and are isolated or quarantined, members of CPD FOIA Unit may be unable to report to work. In such circumstances, CPD may assert exceptions outlined in 5 ILCS 140/3(e), particularly if responding to the request is unduly burdensome in the circumstances, requires review by an unavailable staff member, or requires resources to obtain records located off-site.

Please keep in mind that FOIA allows CPD and the requester to come to a mutually agreeable response period to comply with a FOIA request. Members of the public and media are asked to keep these considerations in mind and are strongly encouraged to work with public bodies to agree on reasonable and appropriate response times in light of the public health concerns we all face. Given that the length of the pandemic remains unknown and that staffing levels have been reduced, during this statewide emergency declaration, CPD may treat a FOIA request as unduly burdensome, in the event that it is not feasible for CPD to comply with or deny a request for public records within 5 business days after its receipt of the request or the time for response was properly extended under 5 ILCS 140/3(e) because it would unduly burden CPD’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At this time, we are extending the time to respond to your request by an additional 5 business days.

If you have any questions, please contact our office at 312-745-5308 or at the following address:

Chicago Police Department
Attention: Freedom of Information Officer
Office of Legal Affairs, Unit 114
3510 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60653

Sincerely,

Robert Earnshaw
Freedom of Information Officer
Chicago Police Department

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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