NYPD: Our Freedom of Information handbook is confidential

“Wait, what?” That’s what I thought when I came across this Tweet the other day.  Of all the records that should be public, wouldn’t a Freedom of Information handbook be first on the list?

Not so, says the New York City Police Department, which denied a request from MuckRock to inspect its FOI handbook. MuckRock projects editor Shawn Musgrave appealed the decision but was again denied.

“NYPD’s lead freedom of information counsel refused to release the department’s freedom of information guides, citing attorney-client privilege,” Musgrave wrote, giving a detailed explanation of how he pursued the records.

For those who aren’t familiar with MuckRock, it’s a service that helps journalists, researchers, activists, historians and others track down public records. In other words, if these guys can’t get it, good luck to everyone else.

What I appreciate about Musgrave’s blogpost is his willingness to show readers his struggle to get the records. He includes documents that show his original request, his follow up correspondence, his appeal and the rejection letters he received from police. 

Oftentimes, journalists and others fight these battles behind the scenes. Sometimes, it’s nice to know you’re not alone.

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