NEW: HOW TO USE THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW TO REQUEST LICENSE PLATE READER DATA FROM ERIE COUNTY CENTRAL POLICE SERVICES
Stationery cameras and license plate readers attached to police vehicles regularly capture our license plate numbers. Cameras such as the one located at Broadway and Bailey Avenue in the City of Buffalo can capture up to 1,800 plates a minute, day or night. Erie County Central Police Services (CPS) has a database with some 21 million plate scans. With this data authorities can determine where your vehicle has traveled on a particular date and time.
Through the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) you can learn how many times your license plate has been scanned by the authorities. Your FOIL request should be directed to Erie County CPS, 45 Elm Street, Buffalo, NY 14203. We have provided a sample FOIL request for your use. After CPS receives your FOIL request, you will receive a letter acknowledging its receipt. This response will indicate the cost for providing documents. The current charge is 25 cents per page. You will be required to call CPS in order to schedule an appointment to pick up the documents in person. On the date of your appointment, you will need to show identification, proof of vehicle ownership and payment for the copies. Your payment must be in the form of check or money order--cash is not accepted. An example of the type of documents you can expect to receive from CPS may be found below. It’s a fun, easy and fascinating use of New York State’s Freedom of Information Law!
Burning Books has produced the two short online videos below on How to Use the Freedom of Information Act and The Freedom of Information Act in Action featuring attorney Michael Kuzma. These videos are intended to assist and encourage individuals and activists in taking advantage of this important and underutilized resource to release documents from government agencies. Many thanks to Artvoice, the Buffalo chapter of the Coalition for Economic Justice, Squeaky Wheel and the Buffalo Chapter of the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee for support and assistance with this project!
Sample FOIA requests and appeals:
Getting Your Government Files by Michael Ratner (The Grand Jury Project is now defunct, but this still has valuable information.)
FOIA For Attorneys: Getting Maximum Value from the Freedom Of Information Act by the New York County Lawyers Association