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What is FOIA and how does it work?
What is FOIA and how does it work?
Chaclyn Hunt avatar
Written by Chaclyn Hunt
Updated over a week ago

In Illinois, government agencies are required to produce public documents when asked. The governing statute is the Freedom of Information Act. There is a federal law with the same name. 

All of the documents and data we publish on this site were received through a series of FOIA requests. You can request information from the Chicago Police Department through and from the  Civilian Office of Police Accountability

The process is supposed to be fairly simple - you submit a request to the correct agency, and they either produce the documents you requested or deny your request based on a list of exceptions delineated in the statute. In real life, it’s a lot slower.

Here are some resources to get you started:

MuckRock - a free site for making and seeing requests

A more complete list of all FOIA officers at the state, county, and municipal levels

A how-to guide from the Better Government Association

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