FOIA Advisor

Q&A: disappearance of NYC communist in 1937

Q&A (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.   Is the New York Police Department required to follow FOIA rules? I have been trying to read the files on Juliet Stuart Poyntz, but the NYPD says there are none and that I'll need a lawyer to pursue the matter.  I was under the impression that the federal government along with state and local agencies are required to respond to FOIA requests? Is that correct or not?

A.  Yes, the NYPD is subject to the State of New York's Freedom of Information Law.  Given the age of any relevant records, however, I would not expect the NYPD to maintain them in their current files.  You might wish to contact the Municipal Archives, which preserves historical records.  Additionally, the FBI might have maintained records pertaining to Ms. Poyntz.  Although such records would likely be located at the National Archives and Records Administration, you must first submit a request to the FBI.   If you are dissatisfied with the NYPD's decision, you may file an administrative appeal -- no lawyer required --  within 30 days of the decision.   If your appeal is denied, you then may file a lawsuit  with or without a lawyer.