SFGovAccessibility
Seal of the City and County of San Francisco
City and County of San Francisco

To view graphic version of this page, refresh this page (F5)

Skip to page body
SFPD
SF311

Public Records Request

San Francisco Police Department Public Records Request Policy and Procedures

The San Francisco Police Department is committed to providing members of the public and press their full right of access to Department public records under the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance and the California Public Records Act. The goal of these procedures is to ensure that members of the public receive prompt, accurate and thorough responses to their requests for public records maintained by the Department.

Download: Public Records Request Form (PDF)

Public Records Request Form Instructions:
1. Download and print a copy of the application.
2. Complete the application, mail or fax to the appropriate address below:

folder.jpgPublic:
San Francisco Police Department
Legal Division, Room 575
850 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Fax: 415-553-7307

Media:
San Francisco Police Department
Public Records Officer, Room 553
850 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Fax: 415-553-9229

Department Records that are Subject to Disclosure

How to Request Public Records from the Police Department

How to Request Public Records from the Police Commission

Form and Content of Request

Time Allowed for Department to Respond to a Request

Immediate Disclosure Requests

Department’s Response to a Records Request

Fees

How to Inspect or Collect Requested Records

Abandoned Requests

Complaint Process

Questions

Department Records that are Subject to Disclosure

Every record made or received by the Department is presumed to be a public record that members of the public and/or press may inspect or obtain a copy of upon request. Some records in the possession of the Department are exempt from public disclosure under federal, state and/or local law. Examples of records the Department is prohibited from disclosing or may decline to disclose include: personnel, medical or similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; confidential communications between the Department and lawyers for the City protected by the attorney-client privilege; and proprietary financial information submitted to the Department in response to a request for proposal prior to award of a contract. If a responsive record contains both exempt and non-exempt information, the Department will redact the exempt material and make the remainder of the record available to the requesting party.

The Department is not required to respond to interrogatories or to create a document in response to a public records request. In addition, the Department is not required to respond to prospective requests.

Return to Top


How to Request Public Records from the Police Department

Media Request

The Department has a Media Relations Unit whose duties include receiving and responding to requests for public records from certified news media outlets. Members of the press should direct their records requests to the Department’s Media Relations Unit. Members of the press should not direct a request to personnel other than the Department’s Media Relations Unit, as that may delay the Department’s response to the request while the request is forwarded to the Media Relations Unit.

Requests for Police Department records should be submitted as follows:

  • By U.S. Mail: San Francisco Police Department, Public Records Officer
    850 Bryant Street, Room 553, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • By Fax: (415) 553-9229
  • By E-mail: SFPDMediaRelations@sfgov.org
  • By Phone: (415) 553-1651

Public Request

The Department has a Legal Division whose duties include receiving and responding to requests for public records from the public. Members of the public should direct their records requests to the Department’s Legal Division. Members of the public should not direct a request to personnel other than the Department’s Legal Division, as that may delay the Department’s response to the request while the request is forwarded to the Legal Division.

Do not send requests for Incident Reports or Traffic Collision Reports to the Legal Division. They must be submitted directly to the Records Management Unit in Room 475.

Requests for all other non-exempt Police Department records should be submitted as follows:

  • By U.S. Mail: San Francisco Police Department, Legal Division,
    850 Bryant Street, Room 575, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • By Fax: (415) 553-7307
  • By Phone: (415) 553-1511

If a member of the press or public submits a request for Police Department records to the Police Commission, the Commission Secretary will promptly forward the request to either the Police Department Media Relations Unit or Legal Division in writing or email. The request will be deemed received after the receiver responds back to the sender within the next business day by e-mail.

Return to Top


How to Request Public Records from the Police Commission

Requests for public records in the possession of the Police Commission should be submitted to the Police Commission Secretary as follows:

  • By U.S. Mail: San Francisco Police Commission, 850 Bryant Street, Room 505, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • By Fax: (415) 553-1669
  • By E-mail: Commission@sfgov.org
  • By Phone: (415) 553-1667

If a member of the public submits a request for Police Commission records to the Police Department, the Department will promptly forward the request to the Police Commission Secretary in writing, and will send a courtesy copy of that correspondence to the requesting party. The request will be deemed received the date it is received by the Police Commission Secretary.

Return to Top


Form and Content of Request

Requests for records may be oral or in writing. The request must include a reasonable description of an identifiable record or records. To expedite processing of the request, members of the public/press should be as specific as possible in making the request. Requests should also include a telephone number, address and/or other contact information the Department can use to contact the requesting party, for example to clarify the request or to advise when the responsive records are available.

Although not legally required, a written request will help the Department understand the request and respond to it in a timely and efficient manner. Members of the public are encouraged to use the Department’s Public Records Request form included at the end of this policy and procedure.

Members of the public are not required to provide a reason for their request for records. If necessary, however, Department members may ask questions about the request to better understand what information the requester desires to assist the requester in forming a focused and effective request.

The Media Relations Unit or Legal Division will try to assist a requesting party to identify the existence, form, and nature of public records or information maintained by the Department.

Return to Top


Time Allowed for Department to Respond to a Request

The Police Department responds to all requests for public records as promptly as reasonably possible, and provides responsive records, if any, as soon as possible after they are available. Upon request, the Department will provide responsive records to a requesting party on an incremental or “rolling” basis.

Generally, the Department has 10 calendar days to respond to a request to inspect or receive copies of records. In certain circumstances, the Department may extend its time to respond by an additional 14 calendar days. Those circumstances include where the Department must (a) search for, collect and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records included in a single request; (b) search for and collect the requested records from a remote storage facility or location separate from Department Headquarters; (c) consult with another agency or City department that has a substantial interest in the response to the request; and/or (d) compile data or construct a computer report to extract data. If the Department extends the time to respond, the Department will notify the requesting party in writing within the initial 10-day response period of the reason(s) for the extension and the estimated date for the response.

Return to Top


Immediate Disclosure Requests

Members of the public/press may also request “immediate disclosure” of public records. Immediate Disclosure Requests must be in writing and include the words "Immediate Disclosure Request" (1) across the top of the request, and (2) on either the envelope, subject line, or cover sheet in or with which the request is transmitted. Members of the public cannot make an oral Immediate Disclosure Request.

Generally, the Department must respond to an Immediate Disclosure Request by the close of business the next business day after the request is received. The Department may extend the time to respond to an Immediate Disclosure request by an additional 14 calendar days for the same reasons, and following the same procedure, described above.

Return to Top


Department’s Response to a Records Request

The Department will provide a written response that will notify the requesting party (1) whether the Department has located any responsive records, (2) whether any exemptions to disclosure apply and if so the legal and factual grounds for the exemptions, and (3) whether any responsive records are available for inspection or pick-up. The Department’s notice to the requesting party will generally include the number of responsive records available for inspection or pick-up, if any, as well as any applicable copying and postage fees. The Department will also inform the requester if it knows or believes that another City department may have additional responsive records.

Unless the requesting party has requested a response through some other method, the Department responds to the request by letter sent U.S. Mail (if a mailing address is provided). If the requesting party has requested an alternative method of response, the Department will honor that request to the extent possible.

Return to Top


Fees

Reviewing Documents: There is no charge to review records. However, if a record requires redaction prior to review, the Department requires 10 cents per page copied, and 20 cents per page for 2-sided copies.

Copies: For documents copied to the order of the requester, the Department charges 10 cents per page copied, and 20 cents per page for 2-sided copies. Their will be no charge for the first 50 pages of a public records request.

Copies other than Paper Records: Where a requesting party seeks a copy of a record in other than a paper format, the Department will charge the party for the cost of the medium on which the information is duplicated. The Department currently charges $3.00 to duplicate a videotape, $2.00 to duplicate an audiotape, and 50 cents to copy a CD-R or computer diskette. Fees for duplications are subject to change.

Postage: The Department charges the cost of postage when the requesting party asks the Department to send copies of the responsive records through U.S. mail.

Method of payment: Fees can be paid by check or money order made payable to “San Francisco Police Department.”

Return to Top


How to Inspect or Collect Requested Records

Media

Members of the press may inspect any responsive records without charge and/or may obtain copies of the records after paying any applicable fees. If the requester does not pay the applicable fee after the documents have been completed as agreed upon, the reporter’s press pass may be revoked until payment is complete. Furthermore, any additional public records request will be accepted, but will not be given until to the reporter or its affiliate news agency until prior payment has been completed.

Public

Members of the public may inspect any responsive records without charge and/or may obtain copies of the records after paying any applicable fees

Inspecting Records: If a member of the press wants to inspect responsive records, the press should contact the Department’s Media Relations Unit. If a member of the public wants to inspect responsive records, the public should contact the Legal Division. The Department will make the records available for review at a location designated by the Department, typically Police Department Headquarters at 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco, Room 553 (Press) or Room 575 (Public).

If records include both exempt and non-exempt information, the Department will only provide copies of the records, and will not make the records available for inspection.

Copies of Records: The public/press may obtain copies of any responsive documents. Two-sided copies will be made when practicable. There are several options to obtain copies:

  1. A requesting party may pick up copies of any responsive documents at Police Department Headquarters, 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco, Room 575 (Legal Div.) or Room 553 (Media Relations Unit), Monday through Friday, from 8 A.M. until 5 P.M. The reporter must pay the applicable fee before he or she can collect the records.
  2. A requesting party may have the Department produce any responsive records through U.S. Mail. If the requesting party elects this option, the Department will send the records after receiving payment for the copies and postage.
  3. If the responsive documents are less than 10 pages, the Department can fax copies to the requesting party without payment of any fee. If there are 10 or more pages of responsive documents, the Department will not produce documents via fax.
  4. The requesting party may ask that the Department provide the records by email. The Department may agree to send records by email, but only under the following circumstances: (1) the records already exist in an electronic format; (2) the records do not contain any exempt information; and (3) the total size of the transmission would be less than 10 MB. The Department does not charge a fee to send copies of electronic records.

Unless the requesting party has requested delivery of any responsive records through some other method, the Department will hold those records for pick-up at Department Headquarters.

Return to Top


Abandoned Requests

The Department will hold any responsive records for 30 calendar days after the date of its written response to the requesting party. A requesting party who is unable to inspect the records or collect copies within that 30-day period may contact the Department’s Legal Division or Media Relations Unit to make arrangements to inspect or collect the copies at a later date. After the 30-day period, however, if the requestor has not made such arrangements with the Department, the Department will return the records to their appropriate files or storage. After that time, the requesting party will need to submit a new request to obtain the records.

Return to Top


Complaint Process

If a requesting party believes that the Department has improperly withheld a public record, he or she may petition the City’s Supervisor of Records for review of the Department’s response by submitting the following: (1) a request for review by the Supervisor of Records, (2) a copy of the original request, and (3) a copy of the Department's response. The requesting party should submit the petition to:

Office of the City Attorney
Attention: Supervisor of Records
City Hall, Room 234
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel. No. (415) 554-4700
Fax. No. (415) 554-4745
TDD/TTY No. (415) 554-6779

A requesting party who believes that the Department has improperly withheld a record or otherwise failed to fulfill its obligations under the City’s Sunshine Ordinance may also file a complaint with the City’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, by submitting the complaint to:

Sunshine Ordinance Task Force
Attention: Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Administrator
City Hall, Room 244
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4683
Tel. No. (415) 554-7724
Fax. No. (415) 554-7854
TDD/TTY No. (415) 554-5227

Return to Top


Questions

Any member of the public with questions about the Department’s public records request policy or procedures may contact the Legal Division at: (415) 553-1511.

Any member of the press with questions about the Department’s public records request policy or procedures may contact the Media Relations Unit at: (415) 553-1651.

Information about the Sunshine Ordinance and the City’s public records request process is generally available at the following City websites:

Return to Top

 
Last updated: 6/16/2014 3:09:06 PM