Freedom of Information

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

In 1967 the Federal Government established the Freedom of Information Act, also known as the FOIA.  Under the FOIA any person has a right to obtain access to Governmental agency records subject to disclosure under the act. The basic purpose of the FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry to hold the governors accountable to the governed. While enacting the FOIA it was recognized that a workable balance must be met between the right of the public’s need to know and the Government’s need to protect certain information.

It is the Policy of the Blytheville Police Department to comply with request for information in a timely organized professional manner as prescribed by Law. The Blytheville Police Department routinely fulfills request for information under the Freedom of Information act. At times however, the release of information may be initially delayed, redacted or not subject to disclosure due to a variety of circumstances or reasons. While many reports or documents may be free, there can be a cost depending on the type and amount of information requested. 

How do I get a copy of a police report FOI?

Easy, you can get a copy of a police or accident report by clicking here which will take you to our "How do I" section. 

Publicized Events

While the majority of Law Enforcement activities draw little or no attention, on occasion a Law Enforcement Event will occur that draws more public attention and request for information. When these occur The Blytheville Police Department will pro-actively attempt to to provide this information to the public online. Many times this information will include photographs, audio files, Police Body Worn Videos all of which are real-life encounters that may contain graphic violence, severe injury, death, nudity, and strong language.

Crime Statistics

The Blytheville Police Department has a page on this web-site dedicated to local reported Crime Statistics Data and Trends. The Blytheville Police Department also provides information from Criminal Incident reports to the FBI. The FOI does not does not however require  a custodian of a record to compile information or create a record in response to a request. The requestor may sort through the reports themselves to tabulate any information in any format they may choose. 

Police Department Personnel Files

One are that is often requested to be made public is information from Law Enforcement employment personnel files. Much of the information kept in a personnel file is exempt from disclosure under FOI. In light of occasional public opinion that does not believe this is fair, it is however the law and taken from the Arkansas Attorney General's Freedom of Information handbook, Exemptions: all employee evaluation or job performance records, including preliminary notes and other materials, shall be open to public inspection only upon final administrative resolution of any suspension or termination proceeding at which the records form a basis for the decision to suspend or terminate the employee and if there is a compelling public interest in their disclosure. Also Personnel records to the extent that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy including: Personal contact information including without limitation home or mobile telephone numbers, personal email addresses, and home addresses of nonelected employees is excluded from disclosure, except that the custodian of the records shall verify an employee’s city or county of residence or address on record upon request;

Quick Links for additional information on the Freedom of Information Act. 

https://arkansasag.gov/arkansas-lawyer/opinions-department/arkansas-freedom-of-information-act/

https://www.justice.gov/oip/doj-guide-freedom-information-act-0