The Legal Aid Society Community Justice Unit

What is a FOIL Request and How Do I Apply?

What is the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)?

Under New York State’s Public Officers Law Sections 84 through 90, the FOIL requires every public agency to produce records requested by the public. These records include “any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency….” The government is not required to create records to satisfy a FOIL request, only share documents that already exist.

How long will it take to get a response?

Under New York’s FOIL Law, an agency has 5 days to respond to your request. At this point you will either receive the requested documents, a denial of your request or an acknowledgement of your request with an approximate response date.

Can my request be denied? If so, what is the next step?

The NYPD may deny your request in whole or in part by citing exemptions under sections 87 of the FOIL. Some of these exemptions include information that would interfere with a law enforcement investigation, identify a confidential source or reveal criminal investigative techniques or procedures. In the likely event that the NYPD withholds your file under one of the statutory exceptions you may file an appeal within 30 days of the denial. If you decide to appeal, please feel free to contact LAS for help.

How much does it cost to get my file?

There are no fees incorporated in retrieving your files.

Can I submit a FOIL request by mail?

FOIL requests to the NYPD must be made in writing. The requestor should state clearly that the letter constitutes a request under the Freedom of Information Law. The letter should also include a description of what is being requested and your name and address. Where possible, include specific search terms to aid and expedite any computerized searches. Please use this sample letter for guidance when making a FOIL request for your own file.

If you opt to mail your FOIL request to the NYPD, mail the request to:

Records Access Officer
NYC Police Department
F.O.I.L. Unit – Legal Bureau
One Police Plaza, Room 110-C
New York, NY 10038

Are you in the NYPD gang database?

Why do we want your FOIL request information?

Submit a FOIL request online