FOIA Advisor

Q&A: Go Blue?

Q&A (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.   If I were to submit a police report [in Michigan], what information on that report would be available through the freedom of information act?

A.  Michigan's FOIA contains several exemptions that a police department might rely upon to withhold information from a police report or other records.  For example, the statute authorizes a public body to withhold information "of a personal nature if public disclosure of the information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy." MCL § 15.243(13)(1)(a).  Additionally, a public body may withhold investigating records compiled for law enforcement purposes if disclosure would interfere with law enforcement proceedings, constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, or disclose the identity of a confidential source.  See MCL 15.243(13)(1)(b). 

Please note that the above-referenced exemptions are discretionary, meaning that a public body may release records even when it is legally entitled to withhold them.  But a police department is not likely to make a discretionary release of law enforcement information if doing so would jeopardize an individual's safety.  For further information, you might wish to contact the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, your local police department's FOIA coordinator, or a Michigan FOIA attorney.