Access to Public Records Act

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Access to Public Records Act

The Access to Public Records Act ("APRA") governs the process to obtain access to public records from the City.  To request public records, you must fill out a Public Records Request form and submit the form to the Legal Department or the Department having possession of the records.  Requests can be made in person or may be submitted by e-mail, regular mail, or fax.  Oral requests for records must be converted to the City's written form.  If you have prepared a written request on your own, it can be attached to the City's form, but you will still need to complete the top portion of the City's form.

Who is eligible to submit an APRA request?

All persons are eligible to submit an APRA request.  A "person" includes individuals as well as corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, associations, and governmental entities.

How long will it take for my request to be processed?

If you submitted your request in person, you will receive an acknowledgment from the City within twenty-four (24) hours of the City receiving your request.  If you submitted your request by regular mail, e-mail, or fax, you will receive an acknowledgment from the City within seven (7) days of the City receiving your request. 

Indiana law requires only an acknowledgement and not the actual production of records within this specified time period.  The City is allowed a "reasonable" amount of time to actually produce all disclosable records to you.  All requests will be given our immediate attention; however, the length of time it will take to produce records is dependent upon the nature, volume, and scope of your request.

What types of records may I request under APRA?

To be required to be accessible, a document must be a "public record" of the City. The APRA defines a public record as ". . . any writing, paper, report, study, map, photograph, book, card, tape recording, or other material that is created, received, retained, maintained, or filed by or with a public agency and which is generated on paper, paper substitutes, photographic media, chemically based media, magnetic or machine readable media, electronically stored data, or any other material, regardless of form or characteristics."  I.C. § 5-14-3-2.

A request for records must identify with reasonable particularity the record being requested.  It should be noted that not every request for records can be granted.  The stated policy of the APRA and its broad definition of public records make most records accessible to the public; however, the APRA specifically excludes certain types of records from disclosure. These exceptions can be found in I.C. § 5-14-3-4.

It is also important to understand that in order for a public record request to be granted, the information requested must actually exist.  The APRA does not cover future records, nor is it a means to obtain answers to questions.  The City is not obligated to create a public record to answer your inquiry.

Where do I find the form to fill out an APRA request?

The Public Records Request forms are available on the City of South Bend's Public Record Request website and may be downloaded from there.  To go to the Public Records Request website, click here.  Alternatively, you may obtain a hard copy of the form from the Legal Department, which is located on the 12th floor of the County-City Building.

What is the cost to submit an APRA request?

Submitting a request for public records is free; however, production of certain records may incur a fee.  These fees are set forth in 2-210 of the South Bend Municipal Code.  To go to the Municipal Code, click here.  

311 Process Notes

311 currently either directs callers to the City website for an APRA Request form located under the Legal Department webpage, or to the department having the records they request.  If they are unsure what department would have the records, Legal should be the default department.  Have them call our main line at 235-9241.