Amtrak FOI Request

Vernon Freedom filed this request with the Amtrak of the United States of America.
Due July 3, 2014
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Vernon Freedom

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

I would like to request all employee disciplinary records, including but not limited to complaints, charges, reprimands, warnings, probations, internal investigations, outcome of all investigations, disciplinary actions taken, etc, on all employees working at the Amtrak Police Department in New Orleans, La from 2005 to the present.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Vernon Freedom

From: Hawkins, Sharron

Mr. Freedom,

I contacted our Police Dept regarding your request. I was informed that it would take several weeks to go through the files in order to locate responsive records, some of which are located in offsite storage. However, I was also informed that there is a spreadsheet that can be generated from our system that would provide responsive information such as, name, incident type, allegation, date of incident, finding.

Can you please let me know if you prefer to wait for the search for records or the spreadsheet format. Please be advised, prior to disclosure exempt information would be redacted in either case.

If you choose the spreadsheet format, we will be able to provide you with a response by Monday, May 19, 2014.

Your request will be placed on hold until we hear from you.

Thank you.

Sharron Hawkins
FOIA Officer
Amtrak FOIA Office
60 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 906-3741 (office)
(202) 906-3285 (fax)

From: Vernon Freedom

When will I receive the information I requested?

It is over two (2) months since I have requested this information.

Please advise.

Regards,
V. Freedom

From: Vernon Freedom

Vernon Freedom
e-mail address: VFreedom13@yahoo.com

Mailing Address:
Vernon Freedom
c/o 165 Avante Garde Circle
Kenner, Louisiana 70065

June 18, 2014
Ms. Sharron Hawkins
AMTRAK
FOIA Officer
Telephone # (202) 906-3741
e-mail: Hawkins@amtrak.com
Re: April 18, 2014 FOIA Request
Tracking Number: 14-FOI-00121

Dear Ms. Hawkins,

I am again contacting you regarding the above FOIA Request, specifically, a copy of all employee disciplinary records, including but not limited to complaints, charges, reprimands, warnings, probations, internal investigations, the outcome of all investigations, and disciplinary actions taken on all employees working at the Amtrak Police Department in New Orleans, LA from 2005 to the present.

The original date that you received my request was April 18, 2014. The fulfilling of this request has still not been completed. It has been another full calendar month since you have given a status update.

To review our correspondence, you responded on May 2, 2014, that it would take several weeks to go through the files in order to locate responsive records, some of which are located in offsite storage. It is my understanding that FOIA guidelines indicate when requested records are stored at another facility, an additional 10 working days are allocated to responding to the FOIA requester after the 20 working days as dictated by the statute.

President Obama and Attorney General, Eric Holder, Jr., have directed agencies to apply a presumption of openness in responding to FOIA requests. Attorney General Holder specifically encouraged agencies to make discretionary releases of records. The Attorney General emphasized that the President has called on agencies to work in a spirit of cooperation with FOIA requesters. Significantly, the FOIA Guidelines also stress that agencies “must be mindful of their obligation to work ‘in a spirit of cooperation’ with FOIA requesters,” as directed by President Obama in his FOIA Memorandum. Moreover, Attorney General Holder stressed the importance of agencies to be mindful of the manner in which they interact with the pivotal player in every FOIA request – the FOIA requester. He stated that establishing good communication and working cooperatively with FOIA requesters is a very simple and yet essential element to ensuring that each agency’s FOIA process is working in accordance with the President’s directives.

It is my understanding that Attorney General Holder also advised when an agency is working on a request that involves a voluminous amount of material or which involves searches in multiple locations, the agency should provide the requester with interim responses rather than waiting until all records are located and processed. "Rolling releases" of records are possible. Whenever such rolling releases are possible the agency should make them to facilitate access to the requested records.

In your May 5, 2014 correspondence, you stated that the Amtrak Police Department informed you that there is a spreadsheet that can be generated from your system that would provide responsive information such as, name, incident type, allegation, date of incident, finding. You responded to me, "Can you please let me know if you prefer to wait for the search for records or the spreadsheet format?" and, "If you choose the spreadsheet format, we will be able to provide you with a response by Monday, May 19, 2014.
Your request will be placed on hold until we hear from you." Your response seemed like an "either/or" offer of information, and I responded that I did not believe you should place my request on hold.
Although I responded back to you within two working days, more than a full calendar month passed with no status update. I am requesting at this time for "rolling release" of records. Specifically, I would like to receive the spreadsheet providing responsive information by the end of this week. Additionally, I would be agreeable to receiving rolling release of records in the format of one calendar year at a time, beginning with the most recent records (records from 2013 first; next, records from 2012, etc.) This proposal seems like a fair and workable method of interim release of records in keeping with Attorney General Holder's FOIA Memorandum.
I believe the release of requested records is most timely, as Amtrak enjoys a significant increase in riders during the summer months on the Chicago/New Orleans corridor. Also, tomorrow Amtrak will begin its Dump the Pump campaign, encouraging travelers to forgo the increasing fuel costs of travel by automobile and to travel by rail. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

I am also copying this correspondence to Director Melanie Ann Pustay of the Office of Information Processing, to ask her assistance in furthering this FOIA request in a more timely manner.

Thanking you in advance for your anticipated compliance. I look forward to receiving the spreadsheet of responsive records that you offered, as well as the full requested information in its entirety in the timeframe as dictated by statute. Records may be sent electronically to the above email or by mail in care of the above address.

Regards,

Vernon Freedom

c: Ms. Melanie Ann Pustay, OIP, DOJ

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 1, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Hawkins, Sharron

You were advised that records responsive to your request were located in offsite storage and would have to be retrieved by our field office and searched. During this time, you were provided with an interim response on June 27, 2014. In our July 10, 2014 email you were also advised that the FOIA Office had just received records and would be going through the review process. In addition you were given a timeframe of approximately 4 weeks.

In earlier communications you were informed that Amtrak was also working through its backlog of requests and that your request did not require expedited treatment. However, we have been working as expeditiously as possible to process your request.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 1, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Hawkins, Sharron

An interim response will be mailed out to you tomorrow.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 1, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 1, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Hawkins, Sharron

You may expect another interim response to your request by Friday, November 7, 2014.

From: Hawkins, Sharron

Please find attached Amtrak’s third interim response to your May 1, 2014 FOIA request.

From: Hawkins, Sharron

Please see attached in regards to your FOIA request.

       

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