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The Oakland Police Department is committed to making information available to the public when requested. Motor vehicle collision reports can be purchased on-line, in person or by mail. Public records, including complaints, crime reports and Department publications, are also available unless release of the information interferes with a right to privacy or an investigation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Public Records
- What are the guidelines for access to Public Records?
- What is a record?
- How can I make a request?
- What information is needed to find a report?
- Where do I direct a request for police information?
- Do I need to identify myself?
- Can I look at a report?
- What can the Department withhold?
- How much will it cost?
- When can I expect to hear about the status of my request?
California citizens have a right to access public information maintained by government agencies. That right is provided for in the California Public Records Act and the State Constitution, and it includes the right to inspect and copy records of state and local government agencies. In addition, the City of Oakland adopted a Sunshine Ordinance as its guideline for public records access specific to the City of Oakland
"Records" include any writing owned, used or maintained by the Department in the conduct of its official business. Writings include information recorded or stored on paper, computers, email, or audio or visual tapes.
- Written requests are encouraged, but not required.
- Written requests help the Department correctly identify the records requested.
- Denials of written requests will be provided in writing.
- When requests made orally, the Department may confirm the request in writing to ensure it has correctly understood the request.
In order to help the Department provide records promptly, provide specific information about the records you seek. When a record cannot be identified by name, be as specific as possible in describing the record, based on its content. If you know the office, division, branch or section of the Department that created and maintains the records, include that information in your request.
When a request is not sufficiently specific, Department staff will help the requester to identify the information, describe how the records are maintained or their physical location, and provide suggestions on how to overcome practical barriers to disclosure.
Call the Public Records Request Coordinator at (510) 238-7143. This will make it easier for us to track and process your request, which will result in your receiving a more prompt response
By U.S. mail
Public Records Request Coordinator
Oakland Police Department Records Section
455 7th Street, Room 306
Oakland, CA 94607.
- You are not required to provide ID or explain why you are requesting to inspect records.
- However, if you plan to pick up the records or have asked them to be mailed to you, relevant identifying information must be provided. Persons wishing to enter secured parts of Department buildings must comply with the Department's security protocol, including providing identification.
- You may access your public records at the OPD Records Division Kiosk on the first floor of the PAB. The Records Kiosk is open to the public from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday and from 8:00 am until noon on Saturday and Sunday.
- However, if the request requires retrieval, review or redaction of records, a mutually agreeable time should be established for inspection of the records.
- Requests for Public Records Guidelines and Department publications usually can be provided quickly.
- Requests for other records may take more time because the records must be located, reviewed for exempt information and copied.
The Department will provide access to all public records upon request unless the law provides an exemption from mandatory disclosure. Examples of records exempt from mandatory disclosure under the California Public Records Act include:
- Certain personnel records
- Investigative records
- Confidential legal advice
- Records prepared in connection with litigation
- Information that may be kept confidential pursuant to other state or federal statutes.
In most circumstances, when the Department removes or redacts exempt information from the record, it will disclose the remainder of the record.
The Department may charge the direct cost of duplication when it provides copies of records to the public (5 cents per page). The direct cost of duplication includes the pro rata expense of the duplicating equipment and the staff (salary/benefits) required to make a copy of the record. Direct cost of duplication does not include the staff person's time in researching, retrieving, redacting and mailing the record.
If the Department must compile electronic data, extract information from an electronic record, or undertake computer programming to satisfy a request, you may be required to bear the full costs, not just the direct cost of duplication
When a copy of a record is requested, and the record cannot be produced immediately, within 10 days of receipt of the request, the Department will determine whether to comply with the request, and shall promptly inform the requester of its decision and the reasons for the decision. The initial 10-day period may be extended for up to an additional 14 days if the Department needs to:
- Communicate with field offices.
- Inspect voluminous records.
- Consult with other divisions or agencies.
- Construct a computer report to extract data.
Whenever possible, the Department will provide records at the time the determination is made to disclose them. If immediate disclosure is not possible the Department will provide an estimated date when the records will be available, and will provide the records within a reasonable period of time.