|Submitted||April 24, 2017|
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Dear Records Officer,
Pursuant to the state public records law, I am a journalist requesting that the Police Department provide data records as part of a national project seeking to explore the use of stolen firearms in crimes. I have broken the request into parts, each of which details the records that we are seeking:
Part 1) Detailed information on stolen guns
It is our understanding that law enforcement agencies keep detailed records about firearms that were reported stolen by the citizens they serve. We are therefore requesting the following for each case of reported firearm theft in your jurisdiction from Jan. 1, 2010 to the present:
-- The serial number, make and model of each firearm that was reported stolen
-- The police report number and/or incident number for the firearm theft
-- The date the theft was reported
Part 2) Detailed information about firearms that were seized, confiscated, recovered, found, turned in, booked into property and evidence, or otherwise came under the custody and control of the department
It is our understanding that law enforcement agencies maintain detailed records about firearms that were seized, confiscated, recovered, found, turned in, booked into property and evidence, or otherwise came under the custody and control of the department. We are therefore requesting the following information about every such firearm taken in from Jan. 1, 2010 to the present:
-- The serial number, make and model of each firearm
-- The date on which the firearm was seized, confiscated, recovered, found, turned in, booked into property and evidence, or otherwise came under the custody and control of the department.
-- The police report number and/or incident number associated with each firearm
-- The type of crime or incident involving each gun (e.g., homicide, robbery, assault, etc.)
If possible, we would be grateful if the data from both parts of this request were collated into a spreadsheet. The Property and Evidence Section of the department may be able to provide such a spreadsheet. It is fine if the spreadsheet contains more information than we are seeking; we will format the data and delete entries that we don’t need.
If a spreadsheet is available, we respectfully ask the department to provide the record layout and/or code sheet so that we can ascertain the meaning of column labels, acronyms and abbreviations, and distinguish between firearms reported stolen and those that were seized, confiscated, recovered, found, turned in, booked into property and evidence, or otherwise came under the custody and control of the department.
If a spreadsheet is not available, please provide physical copies of the police reports or any other documentation containing the data we week.
Firearm theft has become a mounting concern for law enforcement officials in many major cities, leading to campaigns aimed at educating gun owners on storage practices to reduce the risk of theft and prevent firearms from entering the illegal market. We are collecting similar data from dozens of police departments around the country. Our goal is to match the serial number, make and model of firearms that were reported stolen to those that were recovered during the course of a criminal investigation.
I am a member of the news media, a reporter with The Trace, a 501c3 nonprofit news organization headquartered in New York City. We will be making information obtained from this request available to the general public and are not requesting it for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you informed me of the total charges before completing my request.
I would prefer the requested information be sent via an e-mail attachment if available, or a mailed CD-ROM if not. You can send any correspondence or records to my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you require standard mail, we ask that you send correspondence and any records to our national headquarters at:
Attn: Brian Freskos
428 Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10013
Thank you in advance for your help with this request. I look forward to receiving your response. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me on my cell phone: (919) 522-6354. If I do not answer, please leave me a voicemail, and I’ll respond ASAP.
Dear Mr. Freskos:
This correspondence serves to acknowledge your Public Information Act
request of April 24, 2017. The Cumberland Police Department will comply
with this request to provide detailed information pertaining to reported
stolen, recovered, seized or found firearms supported by a Cumberland
Police Department investigation between January 1, 2010 and present. A
cursory review of police department records indicate we have in excess of
300 records that fall into these categories during the time frame you
The following established fees will be assessed for this request:
1. $5.00 charge per Incident Report up to twenty (20) pages, plus
$.25 per page additional for reports exceeding twenty (20) pages
3. $25.00 for CD attachments
4. $20.00 per hour for production and research time exceeding two
Our staff estimates the time involved to research and produce this
requested information will be approximately one-hundred fifty (150) hours.
Prior to assigning personnel to this copious task, a certified check or
money order made payable to the Mayor and City Council of Cumberland, in
the amount of $2,960 (148 hours at $20.00 per hour) must be received at the
Cumberland Police Department, 20 Bedford Street Cumberland, MD 21502. Once
received and processed, your requested information will be assembled and
returned to you. An accounting of the time we spent responding to your
request will be provided upon the conclusion of the required work. If extra
payment is required, it must be made before the documentation will be
produced. If you are entitled to a refund, it will be provided.
Thank you for your interest in public safety and we look forward to
Charles H. Hinnant
Chief of Police
Hi Chief Hinnant,
Thank you for compiling this estimate. However, I don't have that amount of money in my budget. For Part 2, I was hoping the Property & Evidence Section would be able to produce a spreadsheet of firearms without much trouble? If that is not possible, I would like to modify this request to eliminate Part 2 and request only Part 1. Would you mind providing a new estimate?
Good afternoon sir. Of the more than 300 firearms falling into your part 1
and Part 2 request, over 2/3 are included in the stolen category (Part 1).
Although this is the larger portion of the weapons you are asking about, it
is less timely to research than those firearms listed as seized,
confiscated, recovered, found, turned in, booked into property and
evidence, or otherwise coming under the custody and control of the
department.As such, I would estimate the time involved to provide the
information requested in Part 1 to be seventy (70) hours, of which you will
be billed $1360 (68 hours at $20.00 per hour) for the research and
production time. Again, an accounting of the time we spent responding to
your request will be provided upon the conclusion of the required work. If
extra payment is required, it must be made before the documentation
will be produced.
If you are entitled to a refund, it will be provided.
Although our files are automated, your request for this information is
manpower intense. From a master list, I can provide you a list of weapons
reported stolen during this time frame to include a brief description of
the firearm and our investigative case number. To determine the exact date
of the theft and a detailed description of the weapon, including the serial
number, the individual completing the research must go to the report file,
read the report and include the requested information on a spread sheet.
Obtaining specific information on seized, confiscated, recovered, etc.
firearms requires additional research.
I hope this explanation helps.
Should you still be interested in this information, we will provide it to
you in a spreadsheet.
Hi Chief Hinnant,
Thank you for your response. For Part 1, approximately how many firearms were reported stolen? Dozens? Hundreds? If your department provided us the reports, we could go through and pull out the data we need and put it into a spreadsheet. I presume that would save your officers time and us money.
Good morning. As I previously detailed in my response, over 200 firearms
fall into your Part I request. Concerning your suggestion of providing the
reports to you for review, unfortunately this will *NOT* reduce the time
involved in the process. Our personnel will still need to review each
report before providing them to you to redact names of juveniles, suspects
not charged with a crime, etc. and this will probably end up costing you
more as our charges also include $5.00 for each Incident Report in addition
to the time to research and produce the requested material.
The most cost effective way is for us to review each report and provide you
a spreadsheet with the information collectively obtained from the
Ok I would like to put this request on hold for now. I may circle back later on. Thank you for your time and attention.
Ok. Have a good day and thanks for getting back to me.
There are no files associated with this request.