Views: 916

LEGAL-REQUEST: Access to Public Records Act

To request public records, you must fill out an Access to Public Records Request ("APRA") form and submit the form to the Department having possession of the records.  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, and you should then complete the top portion of the City's form.

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.  

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?

You will receive an acknowledgment from the City within twenty-four (24) hours of the City receiving your request, if you submitted it in person. You will receive an acknowledgment from the City within seven (7) days of the City receiving your request, if you submitted it by mail or facsimile. 

Indiana law allows the City a "reasonable" amount of time to provide all disclosable records to you.  All requests will be given our immediate attention; however, the length of time it will take to respond 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 from a public agency. 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.

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 documents accessible to the public.; however, the APRA specifically excludes certain types of documents from disclosure. These exceptions can be found in I.C. § 5-14-3-4.

It should also be noted that in order for a public record request to be granted, the information requested must actually exist.  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.

For 311:

Direct callers to the department having the records they request or to the Legal Department.  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.

You may also direct them to the City website to obtain the forms, which are located under the Legal Department tab.