Secretive federal agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are notorious for refusing to confirm or deny the existence of their records. The issue becomes trickier when local law enforcement agencies, tasked with serving their communities, reply to public records requests in similar fashion. The New York Police Department has used the infamous “Glomar response” in the past to keep records secret, but this week a New York court ruled that the NYPD can’t use it this time.
With 50 different public records laws across the nation and varying opinions on what works, requesters continue to find themselves in a loop to grasp different guidelines. Yet, a former access officer turned transparency lawyer says one unified public records law could be relief requesters need.
From million-dollar price tags to requests for a few cents, MuckRock and its users have had its fair share of FOIA fee debacles. We decided to look at our 50,000+ requests to-date and breakdown the biggest and most noteworthy in each state.
Did the mayor of New York assassinate a groundhog, and other shocking revelations from the #Groundhoghazi emails
On February 2, 2014, New York City mayor was participating in the yearly Groundhog Day event at the Staten Island Zoo when the morning’s festivities took a tragic turn. The groundhog, a female “Chuck” stand-in by the name of Charlotte, fell from Bill de Blasio’s hands and tumbled to the ground. Seven days later, on February 9th, Charlotte was found dead in her enclosure from “acute internal injuries,” injuries the zoo claimed had nothing to do with Charlotte’s fall. Recently released emails between New York City reporters and the Mayor’s press team acquired through a FOIL request are rife with shocking allegations that now call into question everything we know about the incident (not really).
Earlier today journalist Matthew Chayes reported that NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller called the department “the most transparent municipal police department in the world” in testimony before New York City Council. In light of this rather bold claim regarding an agency routinely ranked among the worst in the state regarding openness and access, we thought we’d dig up some examples of the NYPD’s rather unique take on transparency over the years.
|FOIL request stalled|