Let the sun shine

Here’s a little civics lesson about the Freedom of Information of Act (FOIA).


Listen to who all uses FOIA:


I’ve posted this powerpoint on Michigan FOIA law before. It’s a good one and it should open on your computer (phone questionable), unlike so many of the broken links associated with Michigan.gov.

If you have questions about a person you suspect could have been involved with the OCCK or related crimes, you can file a FOIA request with law enforcement agencies to see if tips were called in on the person and if there are any file materials describing how or if the tip was handled. You can try to find out if other complaints were filed on your local pedophile. I want you to see what a simple procedure it is.

Here is a FOIA request via letter submitted by my Dad to the MSP on July 20, 2012, requesting a document the MSP had clearly omitted from their initial response and asking for unredacted photos from the Busch “suicide” scene. (God, the MSP–so shameless.).

Here is an email a reporter sent to Oakland County Jessica Cooper for a copy of the Christopher Busch CSC file and the response. Pretty straightfoward.

Most agencies have a form you can use online if you don’t want to write a letter or email. Take Birmingham PD, for example. Here’s the page and the form is a link on that page. https://www.bhamgov.org/government/departments/clerk/freedom_of_information_request.php.

For the Michigan State Police, see https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1878_63999—,00.html.

Try to narrow the scope of the request (but not too narrow), use a time period and try for some specificity. Consider if records could be in multiple places (Birmingham PD, the MSP, the OCP and/or the OC Sheriff) or where an agency might offload records for “safe keeping” to avoid FOIA requirements.

After you file your request, here’s what will happen. The agency will respond within five days (it has to) and 99% of the time it will ask for an extension of 10 days, or a series of extensions. Then they get back to you, tell you what they found and what the estimated cost is. If it’s $400, you don’t have to get the copies or you can pick and choose. Or (after COVID dies down enough) you can go in and review the documents. Some agencies are decent to deal with. (Not the FBI, as noted in the podcast.)

Although this has not been my experience thus far, the spirit and the letter of FOIA means the agency should begin with the presumption that any records requested are subject to disclosure. Exemptions are to be narrowly construed. You have the right to challenge a denial or heavy-handed redacting. Tomorrow I will address the unethical and I would argue illegal steps being taken by some law enforcement agencies in Michigan to thwart FOIA laws.

Bloomfield Township PD was above board and reasonable when responding to Marney Keenan’s FOIA request about Corporal Richard McNamee and his records, which dated back to the early 1970s. I’m guessing Berkley PD, Birmingham PD, and the MSP, not so much. And the Oakland County Sheriff’s office–yeah, you get an F, too, for playing games. But people, you can still try. These agencies are subject to Michigan FOIA laws whether they like it or not, they serve the public and need to answer for how they do or did business.

If you have a suspect you want information on, file a FOIA request like the reader who filed a FOIA request on Greg Greene in California and got unredacted records dating back to the early 70s. It’s not that hard. Bantering on FB isn’t going to get you any answers. I can’t answer your questions about your dad, your uncle, your neighbor, your employer, nor should you expect me to. Lots of men look good for this on paper. Especially John McKinney, right Birmingham? Multiple men were involved in this, there just is no other logical conclusion. File with the local PD and file with the MSP, OCP and OCS. And don’t fall for the “open investigation” bullshit. If you get denied, post about it here and we can all brainstorm about your next step.