FOIA Advisor

Q&A: identity of complainant to Virginia sheriff's department

Q&A (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.  I live in [redacted] Virginia.  We had a sheriff's officer stop by our home this past week asking about a report of [redacted].  How can I get the name of who called the police?  Can I file a FOIA request, and if so, how?

A.   The sheriff's department is subject to Virginia's FOIA and you do not need to use a special form.  Here is a sample request letter.  Please note, however, that the sheriff's department is unlikely to release the source of its information. The identities of law enforcement sources are invariably protected even if the information provided is determined to be inaccurate.  For further information, you might wish to read this recent article on Virginia's treatment of criminal records under FOIA.