How To Obtain FOIA Police Reports

Freedom of Information Act How To Obtain FOIA Police Reports

How To Obtain FOIA Police Reports in Minutes

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1966, you can request access to federal agencies’ records. If you want to obtain information from police reports, you should file a FOIA request. DoNotPay is here to give you more details on the meaning of FOIA and help you submit your FOIA police reports request in no time.

Freedom of Information Act for Police Records

Police departments usually have a bunch of records publicly available on their websites. When it comes to police reports, they might not be easily accessible. Police departments are not willing to publicly display certain information, especially the details regarding crime and arrests. If you can’t find the report you seek in the police department’s library, you can invoke the Freedom of Information Act. 

To obtain information from police reports, you will need to submit a FOIA request. Be aware that there are certain exemptions to the FOIA. You might not be able to access records that:


  1. Protect the interest of national security
  2. Relate to internal rules of an agency
  3. Enjoy protection from disclosure by another federal law
  4. Refer to trade secrets
  5. Include privileged communication within or between agencies
  6. Contain information that can invade other people’s privacy
  7. Include the details related to law enforcement purposes
  8. Reveal information about the supervision of financial institutions
  9. Have geological and geophysical data

How Much Does Filing a FOIA Request Cost?

If you seek information from the police reports, you might need to pay a FOIA fee to access them. The fees vary depending on several factors, including the following:

  • State and police department
  • Type of information you need
  • Document format
  • Number of pages 
  • Time needed to process your request

If you prove that the reports you seek are of public importance, you may be exempted from paying the fees. Requesters from commercial entities are rarely granted fee waivers.

How To Send a FOIA Request for Police Records on Your Own

Here are the most common ways to request access to police reports:

Can I Submit My Request Via Yes/No
DoNotPay Yes
Online Yes
Email Yes
Mail Yes
Fax Depends on the department
Phone Depends on the department
Special Carrier Depends on the department

The methods of filing a FOIA request for police reports differ from department to department. The Chicago Police Department, as well as the Michigan police, require written FOIA requests.

You might have to fill out a FOIA request form, but not all police departments provide one. In case you can’t find the form for the agency you want to retrieve records from, you can use a FOIA request template as a guide.

The templates contain only rough information on how to write a FOIA request. If you don’t want to waste time and risk omitting important details, use DoNotPay to file police reports FOIA requests effortlessly.

Submit a FOIA Request for Police Reports in No Time With DoNotPay

DoNotPay lets you make FOIA requests within minutes! We will compose a FOIA letter for you and send it to the agency of your choosing. With our award-winning app, you can also request a FOIA fee waiver or ask for an expedited process.  

To request access to police reports, do the following:

  1. Open DoNotPay in any web browser
  2. Search for FOIA
  3. Enter the police department you want to get reports from
  4. Provide your personal and contact details 
  5. Give us information about the documents you seek and finalize your request

In case your request gets denied, read DoNotPay’s guide to filing a FOIA appeal.

What Happens After You Submit Your FOIA Request for Police Reports?

Once you file your FOIA request, the department in question should let you know whether your request was approved. The response time is around 20 working days of receiving it. Note that the response period might be much longer than that. You can use DoNotPay to learn how to check your FOIA status

DoNotPay Allows You To File a FOIA Request to Any Agency

Do you need to retrieve records from some other agencies? DoNotPay can assist you in submitting FOIA requests to any state or federal agency, including the:

You can seek federal agencies’ information on yourself or any other subject. All you need to do is log in to DoNotPay in any web browser, and we can help you get the records you need.

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