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Government

Just the facts, man

How public bodies reacted to records requests

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Published 3/14/2007

When the 54 Wayne State University students sought public records to test compliance with the state’s Freedom of Information Act, they asked for different documents at different types of public agencies. At police departments, they asked for a copy of the daily log from the day before their visit. At municipal governments they asked for a copy of the latest performance evaluation of the city manager or other top officials. At school districts, they asked for a copy of the superintendent’s compensation package. They recorded if they were asked their names, affiliations, for identification and reasons they wanted records, if and/or when they got a response, and what that response was.

Here are summaries of each visit:

City of Allen Park

Asked auditor’s name. Responded within five days, saying document didn’t exist.

Allen Park Police Department

Responded within five days. Declined to provide document, citing several exemptions from disclosure. City attorney — who did not return several telephone calls to clarify this decision — sent letter denying request and citing FOIA exemptions that say producing the log would interfere with law enforcement proceedings, would disclose law enforcement investigative techniques of procedures, would endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel, would prejudice the ability to maintain security of institutions occupied by persons arrested, would prejudice the public body’s ability to protect the public safety, and would identify residences that law enforcement agencies are requested to check in the absence of their owners or tenants.

Allen Park Public Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Auburn Hills

Responded within five days, saying the document didn’t exist.

City of Berkley

Responded within five days, saying the document didn’t exist.

Berkley School District

Asked auditor’s name. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Birmingham

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Birmingham Police Department

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Birmingham Public Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Bloomfield Hills

Responded within five days stating would take extension. Responded within 10-day extension that record did not exist.

Bloomfield Hills Public Safety

Provided the record when auditor visited.

Bloomfield Hills School District

Responded within five days with letter containing information. Did not provide original document.

Clarenceville School District

Did not respond within five days but eventually provided letter containing information. Did not provide original document.

City of Dearborn

Did not respond within five days but eventually provided letter saying document did not exist.

Dearborn Police

Asked why auditor wanted information. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Dearborn Public Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Dearborn Heights

Asked why auditor wanted record. Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Dearborn Heights Police Department

Asked auditor’s affiliation. Asked why auditor wanted record. Told auditor must put reason record was requested on request form. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Dearborn Heights District 7 Schools

Responded within five days, with letter containing information.

City of Detroit

Did not respond within five days but eventually provided letter saying documents did not exist.

Detroit Police Department

Asked auditor’s name, affiliation and repeatedly asked reason for wanting record. Asked for identification. Responded within five days, did not provide record.

Detroit Public Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

East Detroit Public Schools

Asked auditor’s name. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Eastpointe

Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Eastpointe Police Department

Asked auditor’s name. Asked why auditor wanted record. Responded within five days saying request didn’t "contain sufficient descriptive information to permit a search" of records.

City of Farmington

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Farmington Public Safety

Repeatedly asked auditor why wanted record. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Farmington Public Schools

Two students visited. Both were asked why wanted record. Both received response within five days, letter contained information.

City of Farmington Hills

Told may have to provide $50 deposit for fees. Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Farmington Hills Police

Two students visited. Responded within five days, providing the record to both.

City of Ferndale

Said it was "policy" to ask why auditor wanted information. Responded within five days, stating would take extension. Provided the record within 10-day extension.

Ferndale Police

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Ferndale Public Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Village of Franklin

Asked why auditor wanted record during visit and in subsequent telephone call. Responded within five days, stating would take extension. Provided record within 10-day extension.

City of Garden City

Did not respond within five days, but provided record.

Garden City Police

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Garden City School District

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Grosse Pointe

Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Grosse Pointe Public Safety

Chief called auditor after visit to ask why record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Grosse Pointe Public Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Grosse Pointe Farms

Asked auditor name, affiliation and why record was requested. Said document requested was not a public record. Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

City of Grosse Pointe Park

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety

Responded within five days that record didn’t exist.

Village of Grosse Pointe Shores

Auditor was asked why wanted record. Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety

Auditor was asked name and why wanted record but was given record during visit.

City of Grosse Pointe Woods

Auditor was asked why wanted record. Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and why auditor wanted record. Was told if they were "just a nosy neighbor" the department wouldn’t want to give out the information. Did not respond within five days, but did provide the record.

Hamtramck Police

Two students visited. Neither received a response or the record.

Hamtramck Public Schools

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Harper Woods

Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Harper Woods Police

Auditor was asked if she was a lawyer and why she wanted the record. Auditor was telephoned after her visit and asked her name and why she wanted the record. Did not respond within five days, but did provide the record.

Harper Woods School District

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Hazel Park

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and why he wanted the record. Did not respond within five days, but eventually said record did not exist.

Hazel Park Police

Auditor was asked name and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Hazel Park Community Schools

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Highland Park

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, saying record did not exist.

Highland Park Police

Wayne County Sheriff’s Department administers services. Auditor was asked name, affiliation, identification and why the record was requested. Did not respond within five days. Did not provide record.

Highland Park School District

Auditor was asked name. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Huntington Woods

Auditor was asked affiliation. City sent blank evaluation form as response.

Huntington Woods Public Safety

Auditor was asked name. Responded within five days providing record.

City of Inkster

Did not respond within five days. Did not provide record.

Inkster Police

Auditor was asked name and why the records were requested. A sergeant later called the auditor and asked why the records were requested, saying it seemed "suspicious" and that he didn’t feel comfortable giving out the information. Did not receive response in five days or information.

Inkster Public Schools

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Lincoln Park

Did not respond within five days. Eventually provided record.

Lincoln Park Police

Auditor was asked name and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing record.

Lincoln Park School District

Auditor was asked his name, affiliation and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Livonia Public Safety

Responded within the five days, providing the record.

Livonia Public Schools

Two students visited. Both were asked name and reason for wanting the record. One was asked for identification. Both received the information in a letter.

Macomb County

Responded within the five days, saying document did not exist.

Macomb County Sheriff’s Department

Auditor was asked why the record was requested and was told it wasn’t a public record. Responded within five days, providing record.

Mount Clemens (Macomb County Sheriff’s Department)

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing record.

City of Madison Heights

Responded within five days, saying the document did not exist.

Madison Heights Police Department

Auditor was asked name, affiliation, for identification and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Madison School District

Auditor was asked why the record was requested. Responded within five days, saying the record didn’t exist. District has contract with employment agency for interim superintendent.

City of Melvindale

Auditor was asked name, affiliation and reason for wanting record. Did not respond within five days. Did not provide record.

Melvindale Police Department

Two students visited. One was asked name, affiliation and why the record was requested. The other was asked why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Mount Clemens

Responded within the five days, providing the record.

Mount Clemens Community Schools

District responded in five days, providing the record.

City of Northville

Auditor was asked affiliation and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

Northville Police

Auditor was asked why the record was requested. Responded within five days providing the record.

City of Novi

Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Novi Police

Auditor was asked why record was requested, but was given record during visit.

Novi Community Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Oak Park

Responded within five days, saying the record did not exist.

Oak Park Public Safety

Auditor was told log wasn’t a public record but then chief OK’d it. Responded in five days, providing record.

Oak Park Public Schools

Two students visited. One was asked name, affiliation and reason for requesting record. Did not respond within five days, but eventually provided record.

Oakland County

Asked name, affiliation and why record was requested. Was told it was not a public record. Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Oakland County Sheriff’s Department

Did not respond in five days. Did not provide record.

City of Orchard Lake

Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Orchard Lake Police

Auditor was asked why record was requested but was given record during visit.

City of Pleasant Ridge

Auditor was asked name. Responded within five days, but did not provide record.

Pleasant Ridge Police

Asked auditor name, affiliation and why record was requested. Was told request was "bullshit" and asked if there was an "ulterior motive" for wanting it. Responded within five days providing record.

City of Plymouth

Responded within five days. Notified of extension. Provided record.

Plymouth Canton Community Schools

Responded within five days, providing record.

City of Pontiac

Did not respond within five days, but eventually said record did not exist.

Pontiac School District

Did not respond within five days, but eventually provided the record.

City of Redford

Auditor was asked name. Responded within five days, saying document did not exist.

Redford Union School District

Responded within five days, providing the record.

River Rouge Police

Did not respond within five days. Did not provide record.

River Rouge Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Riverview

Responded within five days, saying the document did not exist.

Riverview Community Schools

Auditor was asked name, for identification and why the record was requested. Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Rochester

Responded within five days, saying the document did not exist.

Rochester Police

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Rochester Community Schools

Auditor was asked why record was requested. Was told, "You do realize we will ask for an extension." Responded within five days, providing the information in a letter.

Romeo

Responded within five days, saying the document did not exist.

City of Romulus

Responded within five days, saying the document did not exist.

Romulus Police

Auditor was asked name but was given record during visit.

Romulus Community Schools

Responded within five days, providing information in letter.

Roseville Police

Responded within five days, providing document.

Roseville Community Schools

Did not respond within five days but eventually provided document.

City of Royal Oak

Responded within five days, saying document didn’t exist.

Royal Oak Police

Responded within five days, providing the record.

Royal Oak Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

City of Southfield

Auditor was asked affiliation. Did not respond within five days, but eventually said document didn’t exist.

Southfield Police

Responded within five days, saying document didn’t exist.

Southfield Public Schools

Asked auditor if request was a subpoena. Responded within five days, providing the information in a letter.

City of Southgate

Responded within five days, saying the document did not exist.

Southgate Police

Responded within five days, providing the document.

Southgate Community Schools

Responded within five days, providing record.

St. Clair Shores Lakeshore Public Schools

Auditor was asked why record was requested. Responded within five days, providing record.

City of Sterling Heights

Responded within five days, but did not provide record.

Sterling Heights Police

Responded within five days, providing document.

City of Taylor

Responded within five days, providing document.

Taylor Police

Responded within five days, but did not provide record.

Taylor Schools

Auditor was asked affiliation. Responded in five days, but provided information in letter.

Trenton Police

Did not respond within five days, but eventually provided record.

Trenton Public Schools

Responded within five days, providing record.

City of Troy

Responded within five days, saying record did not exist.

Troy Police

Responded within five days, providing record.

Troy Schools

Responded within five days, providing record.

City of Utica

Auditor was asked why wanted record. Responded within five days, saying record did not exist.

Utica Police

Auditor was asked name, affiliation, why record was requested. Responded within five days, providing record.

Utica Community Schools

Responded within five days, providing record.

City of Warren

Auditor was asked name and why record was requested. Responded within five days, saying record did not exist.

Warren Police

Auditor was asked why record was requested. Did not respond within five days. Did not provide record.

Warren Consolidated Schools

Responded within five days, providing record.

Waterford Police

Auditor was asked name. Responded within five days, providing record.

Wayne County

Responded within five days, saying record did not exist.

Wayne County Sheriff’s Department

Auditor was asked why record was requested. Was told it was not a public record. Did not respond within five days. Did not provide record.

City of West Bloomfield

Responded within five days, saying record did not exist.

West Bloomfield Schools

Did not respond within five days, but eventually provided record.

City of Westland

Responded within five days, saying record did not exist.

Westland Police

Auditor was asked name, affiliation, for identification. Responded within five days, providing record.

Wayne Westland Community Schools

Responded within five days, providing the record.

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