NYPD Claims It Can't Find 'Widely-Circulated' Memo That Cut Off Press Access To Precinct Crime Blotters

from the [sound-of-burning-paper] dept

MuckRock is again reporting on a mysteriously missing document -- one that was previously acknowledged to exist but come public records request time, simply can't be found.

A couple of months ago, it was the FBI claiming that a Drone Impact Assessment it had previously "released" in response to an FOIA request (read: redacted in full) suddenly couldn't be located. Now, it's the gold standard of Freedom of Information obfuscation -- the New York Police Department -- claiming the same thing.

In December 2013, the NYPD ordered its 77 precinct commanders to route reporters’ requests for crime reports through the agency’s press office, rather than release these documents directly. So where’s the order itself?

More than fifteen months after MuckRock requested it, the NYPD has a rather familiar answer: we couldn’t find it.
It's not as though the document never existed. The NYPD's decision to deny journalists access to its crime blotters -- something it had allowed for decades previously -- was heavily criticized by a variety of outlets (including this one). The document's existence was even acknowledged by the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, who claimed it was nothing more than a reiteration of previously-existing policy. (If so, then it had never been enforced until the distribution of this suddenly-nonexistent memo.)

But now, more than a year after it was first requested, the NYPD's FOIL response team claims the document everyone was talking about several months ago just isn't there.
In regards to the document(s) you requested, this unit is unable to locate documents responsive to your request based on the information provided.
In addition to the documents MuckRock didn't receive, the NYPD is expected to not answer MuckRock's follow-up question sometime within the next 12-18 months.
MuckRock has emailed the NYPD’s DCPI [Deputy Commissioner of Public Information] to request clarification as to how this order was so widely disseminated throughout the department without being put in writing.
Perhaps the last words of the memo were, "BURN AFTER READING?"

And so, the NYPD continues on in its quest to leave no FOIL request unthwarted. I'd say it has its work cut out for it, but it's already been touted as "worse than the CIA, NSA and FBI" in the Information Doesn't Want to Be Free category. Between its generally frosty exterior and its no-oversight-needed in-house document classification, the NYPD continues to put other reluctant participants in open records laws to shame.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: crime blotter, foia, foil, journalism, new york, nypd


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 1 Apr 2015 @ 5:34pm

    Cause....Effect

    I was about to say that the NYPD and other agencies have issues with finding their own asses, with both hands, a magnifying glass, and satellite surveillance when they don't make up the circumstances.

    But after reading the article, I have to fall back to: not knowing what one is supposed to know is predicated on the amount of money paid by others than their employer (us). The money may be interpreted as life threatening or threats against loved ones from interested individuals or groups (I am in no way implying that unions are involved (SHHHHH, Wink, Wink, nods to come)).

    I keep thinking, what could be done to correct this?, and then think about, well if we do come up with a good correction, who the hell is gonna enforce it? We cannot trust legislators. We cannot trust various levels of executive (local, state, national). They control the military might, though are prescribed against using it against us (go ahead, laugh). And the courts are seemingly wishy washy as to doing the right thing, rather than doing things right.

    If these collective idiots actually sat down and thought this through, they would come to the same understanding that I have...and they would then call me a terrorist (there is a big difference between what I am thinking and what other folks considered subversive are thinking but there are some similarities).

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.