Saturday, August 16, 2014

MCSD vs. FOIA - Round 2

On July 13 I filed a FOIA request by email with the McHenry County Sheriff's Department for the reports and other documentation of a call-for-service that related to a domestic disturbance involving a MCSD deputy.

When I didn't get the FOIA response within the statutory period, I filed a Request for Review with the Public Access Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. They notified MCSD, and Cmdr. Cedergren was quick to reply, telling the Bureau that they never received my request.

Now, a little background. When Mrs. Weech was the FOIA office, she always responded promptly to my FOIA requests. I don't remember ever having to follow up to get a response.

Cmdr. Cedergren told the Bureau that my email contained a virus; however, that's not what the County's I.T. person had told him. The I.T. guy's communication was included, so I could read the exact wording.

It seems that my emailed request was quarantined because it "scored very high as a potential threat." According to the County's I.T. Email Filtering Overview (policy) "suspicious messages are deleted, or sent to a Quarantine where you have the option to review or deliver them to the user."

I can just imagine that my email was considered a "serious threat" because I was asking for information about a domestic disturbance involving a deputy. That deputy, some feel, should have been arrested and charged; others would have been. I.T. apparently did not exercise its option to deliver my FOIA request.

I re-submitted my FOIA request on August 12 and sent copies to Undersheriff Zinke, Cmdr. Cedergren and the County's I.T. Senior Network Engineer, asking one of them to be sure my email was delivered and requesting acknowledgement of its receipt.

When no acknowledgement was forthcoming, I telephoned the Records Department at 9:46AM on August 13 and learned that, indeed, my email had been received. So the clock is ticking for MCSD, and they now must responses by August 20.

Mrs. Weech did a terrific job as the civilian FOIA Officer of the MCSD. Now there are deputies in charge, and they are subject to orders of their superiors as well as under Illinois State Law. Which master will they serve?

Will Sgt. Decman tell Cmdr. Cedergren that the FOIA law is clear and that they must comply?

Will Cmdr. Cedergren tell Undersheriff Zinke that the FOIA law is clear and that they must comply?

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