FOIA FAQs

Under the Freedom of Information Act , 5 ILCS 140/1 et. seq, records in the possession of public agencies may be accessed by the public upon request. The Act defines a public record as, "all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body."

Freedom of Information Act requests must be made in writing and submitted to the Department's Freedom of Information Officer. Any written document that includes the following information is acceptable:
  • Your name
  • Organization, if applicable
  • Mailing address
  • A clear description of the records you are requesting. In order for us to serve you better, please include all relevant details and be as specific as possible. (FOIA is designed to allow you to inspect or receive copies of records. It is not designed to require a public body to answer questions. Questions should be directed to the appropriate department staff for response.)
  • A declaration that a request is for a commercial purpose if that is your intent. Section 3.1(c) of the Freedom of Information Act makes it a violation to "knowingly obtain a public record for a commercial purpose without disclosing that it is for a commercial purpose."
  • If requesting another person's personal information, a signed release or court order authorizing such disclosure is required.

Except when a fee is otherwise fixed by statute, each public body may charge fees reasonably calculated to reimburse its actual cost for reproducing public records.

No fees shall be charged for the first 50 pages of black and white, letter- or legal-sized copies. There is a charge for responses exceeding 50 pages. The fee is 15 cents per page starting at page 51 for black and white, letter- or legal-sized copies. If a public body provides copies in color or in a size other than letter or legal, the public body may charge the actual cost for reproducing the records.

There is a charge for imaging products (photographic images, still digital images, video images, instant print images, visual computer images, illustrative images, charts, schematics, diagrams, images drawn by hand, machine- or computer-generated images, and computer animations). See 20 Ill. Adm. Code 1298

If a fee is charged, the Department will notify the requester of the charge. Once payment is received, the requested information will be mailed.

The Illinois State Police is unable to accept payment by credit card or debit card. Payment is required by check or money order payable to the Illinois State Police. In most instances, no documents will be sent until payment is received.

The Freedom of Information Act requires the Department to respond to non-commercial requests within five business days or a date which is mutually agreed upon by the Department and the requestor. The Department can ask for an additional five business days in which to respond under certain circumstances outlined in the Act and upon the provision of a written notice to the requestor. Commercial requests must be responded to within 21 business days.

Section 2 (C-10) of the Freedom of Information Act defines commercial purpose as:

(T)he use of any part of a public record or records, or information derived from public records, in any form for sale, resale, or solicitation or advertisement for sales or services. For purposes of this definition, requests made by news media and non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations shall not be considered to be made for a "commercial purpose" when the principal purpose of the request is (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events, (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, or (iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education [5 ILCS 140/2(C-10)]

No – To obtain future information and/or updates, you must submit a separate FOIA request. However, to avoid excessive fees or duplicate records, you may wish to limit the scope of your request for records by date (i.e., "all records for the years of ____ to ____" or "all records since ____").

You have the right to have the denial of your request reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Attorney General. 5 ILCS 140/9.5(a). You can file your Request for Review with the PAC by writing to:
  • Public Access Counselor
  • Office of the Attorney General
  • 500 South 2nd Street
  • Springfield, Illinois 62706
  • Fax: (217) 782-1396
  • E-mail: publicaccess@atg.state.il.us

You also have the right to seek judicial review of your denial by filing a lawsuit in the State circuit court. See 5 ILCS 140/11.

If you choose to file a Request for Review with the PAC, you must do so within 60 calendar days of the date of the denial letter. 5 ILCS 140/9.5(a). Please note that you must include a copy of your original FOIA request and the denial letter when filing a Request for Review with the PAC.

Subpoenas are different from Freedom of Information Act requests and should be sent to the Illinois State Police work location where the records are located. For assistance determining where a subpoena should be sent, please contact the Illinois State Police Legal Office at (217) 782-7658.