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Filing document requests

sjhipple

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I just posted on a thread about a person wanting to file a document request and complaint and I tried to help him find the information he'll need to do that. I think this information will be helpful to ALL people who OC so here is the link to that thread. It includes a link to a page with copies of documents relating to a FOIA Request and complaint that had a positive outcome. (Here's a direct link to that page)

In addition, here is a listof webpages sorted by state for people wanting to file document requests. I think every state has a sunshine law, but each state is different so this page should be invaluable.

Putting these two resources together (the example of the Virginia OCer and the link to the list of state sunshine laws), any person in any state should have everything they need to handle a FOIA and complaint without an attorney. Just use the text of the Virginia FOIA with the reference to the state law you find in the list and you'll be set.

If you ever getdetained** for open carryingby a police officer for OCing, you should use the information contained in these links to file a FOIA request (aka "sunshine request") and formal complaint stating that the officer illegaly detained you. People in Virginia have had very positive outcomes from taking this route and we are mostly left unmolested by the polce now. We've taught them well ;)


**Detention is when you are not free toleave and is temporary and usually lasts less than an hour(whereas an arrest lasts longer, leaves a record and is custodial). So it's always a good idea to ask "am I free to leave?" If the officer says yes, you are not being detained and no complaint letter is necessary. A positive (ie, legal) encounter with an officer where you are not detained or arrested for OC calls for a complimentary letter in my opinion, complimenting the officer for his knowledge of the law.
 

Superlite27

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What is a "sunshine law"? It sounds familiar, but I'm ignorant of its meaning. I have a CCW permit from Missouri, yet I am going to attempt to open carry this summer over the 4th of July weekend. Missouri is an anomolous state in that it does not have full pre-emption. (Each county may specifically ban open carry since Missouri State Law specifically states "concealed" on its permits)

The county I live in does not specifically ban open carry, and I believe things not specified in the wording of the law are presumed legal. I have personally talked with the police cheif in the nearest town about open carry, and he stated to me in a courteous manner:

"There's nothing in the law prohibiting it, but I'd prefer if you didn't because we might possibly get a "man with a gun" call, and it would cause a big panic, lights and sirens, speeding police cars, armed response and all that, so I'd personally prefer you didn't."

Now, I'm not a jerk, so I haven't paraded around openly because the guy personally and politely asked me not to. (He didn't TELL me not to, he just asked.) But, since he has already stated the legality, I think I might just do so in the future.

The only thing I'm worried about IS a possible "man with a gun" call and the whole fiasco it might lead to. I don't want to do anything "for principle" that might even remotely endanger my right to carry PERIOD. I'm not a big fan of altercations or scenes, and don't want ANY drama. Yet, I'm torn on expressing my rights. Like it is said, "A right unexercised is a right lost."

So this is why I am interested in your post about FOIA paperwork. Why would I need FOIA requests in a open carry confrontation with police? What is this "Sunshine Law" and how does it affect my situation?
 

LEO 229

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ama-gi wrote:
Snipped.....
If you ever get stopped by a police officer for OCing, you should use the information contained in these links to file a FOIA request (aka "sunshine request") and formal complaint stating that the officer illegaly detained you. ....Snipped
Now the only thing that concerns me is that readers might think that "any" contact should warrant this action.

If you are approached and engaged in conversation about your firearm... this is far different than you being "stopped" and prohibited from leaving.

Also... if someone alleges you committed a crime and you are stopped but it does not pan out and you are allowed to go.

I do take the filing of complains serious as this can hurt the career of the honest officer. An officer that is about to be promoted or get a favorable transfer to a requested assignment are put on hold during the investigation.

This is because the people get pissed when an officer alleged to have done something wrong has immediately been promoted or assigned to a new job that was already pending prior to the complaint being filed.

So please be sure you know what the circumstances are before you complain. I do not think an honest and good officer should suffer so that your cause can be furthered by his investigation generating awareness.
 

sjhipple

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LEO 229 wrote:
ama-gi wrote:
Snipped.....
If you ever get stopped by a police officer for OCing, you should use the information contained in these links to file a FOIA request (aka "sunshine request") and formal complaint stating that the officer illegaly detained you. ....Snipped
Now the only thing that concerns me is that readers might think that "any" contact should warrant this action.

If you are approached and engaged in conversation about your firearm... this is far different than you being "stopped" and prohibited from leaving.

Also... if someone alleges you committed a crime and you are stopped but it does not pan out and you are allowed to go.

I do take the filing of complains serious as this can hurt the career of the honest officer. An officer that is about to be promoted or get a favorable transfer to a requested assignment are put on hold during the investigation.

This is because the people get pissed when an officer alleged to have done something wrong has immediately been promoted or assigned to a new job that was already pending prior to the complaint being filed.

So please be sure you know what the circumstances are before you complain. I do not think an honest and good officer should suffer so that your cause can be furthered by his investigation generating awareness.
Good advice LEO 229. Thanks for the clarification. I meant that if you are detained for open carrying, not just stopped. :? I edited my above post.
 

Michigander

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LEO 229 wrote:
So please be sure you know what the circumstances are before you complain. I do not think an honest and good officer should suffer so that your cause can be furthered by his investigation generating awareness.
I agree. Even in the case of a some what negative encounter, rather than complain, if you feel the officer had the best intentions of everyone in mind, and nothing like drawn guns, handcuffs, or screaming happened, it would be best to write to the chief and complain to him that he himself is to blame for not making his officers aware that open carry is legal. Then, everyone here will rejoice and get their jollies on when the chief sends out a memo detailing the legality of OC.:celebrate
 

sjhipple

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Superlite27 wrote:
What is a "sunshine law"? It sounds familiar, but I'm ignorant of its meaning. I have a CCW permit from Missouri, yet I am going to attempt to open carry this summer over the 4th of July weekend. Missouri is an anomolous state in that it does not have full pre-emption. (Each county may specifically ban open carry since Missouri State Law specifically states "concealed" on its permits)

The county I live in does not specifically ban open carry, and I believe things not specified in the wording of the law are presumed legal. I have personally talked with the police cheif in the nearest town about open carry, and he stated to me in a courteous manner:

"There's nothing in the law prohibiting it, but I'd prefer if you didn't because we might possibly get a "man with a gun" call, and it would cause a big panic, lights and sirens, speeding police cars, armed response and all that, so I'd personally prefer you didn't."

Now, I'm not a jerk, so I haven't paraded around openly because the guy personally and politely asked me not to. (He didn't TELL me not to, he just asked.) But, since he has already stated the legality, I think I might just do so in the future.

The only thing I'm worried about IS a possible "man with a gun" call and the whole fiasco it might lead to. I don't want to do anything "for principle" that might even remotely endanger my right to carry PERIOD. I'm not a big fan of altercations or scenes, and don't want ANY drama. Yet, I'm torn on expressing my rights. Like it is said, "A right unexercised is a right lost."

So this is why I am interested in your post about FOIA paperwork. Why would I need FOIA requests in a open carry confrontation with police? What is this "Sunshine Law" and how does it affect my situation?
A sunshine law (aka a "Freedom of Information Act") is a law that allows ordinary people to get government records. Citizen OCers can use it to get information about why they were detained and what actions were taken as a way to have an informed complaint letter.

As far as the "man with a gun" calls, getting those out of the way is the first step to ressurecting our OC rights unfortunately. Carry a voice recorder (if it's legal to record cops in MO...be sure) and be polite.
 

sjhipple

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Michigander wrote:
LEO 229 wrote:
So please be sure you know what the circumstances are before you complain. I do not think an honest and good officer should suffer so that your cause can be furthered by his investigation generating awareness.
I agree. Even in the case of a some what negative encounter, rather than complain, if you feel the officer had the best intentions of everyone in mind, and nothing like drawn guns, handcuffs, or screaming happened, it would be best to write to the chief and complain to him that he himself is to blame for not making his officers aware that open carry is legal. Then, everyone here will rejoice and get their jollies on when the chief sends out a memo detailing the legality of OC.:celebrate
Being illegally detained is a serious mistake and I'm just fine with filing a complaint letter in response to that. It will prevent other officers from making the same mistake.
 

Michigander

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And by the way, when I made my complaint for a hideously improper traffic ticket, I just sent the chief a formal letter, and there was a prompt investigation. They got back to me over the phone with the details, which was more than good enough for me.

In the case of a department that is not so willing to cooperate, or if you want written documents, this information would be extremely useful. :cool:
 

Michigander

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ama-gi wrote:
Being illegally detained is a serious mistake and I'm just fine with filing a complaint letter in response to that. It will prevent other officers from making the same mistake.
In any case involving any level of force, or any actual arrest, I am all for formal complaints, and written demands for written documentation of information about disciplinary actions, or whatever else you might want to throw in there. There is absolutely no excuse for unlawful arrest or use of force. If you are a cop, and you arrest someone, threaten them with any level of force, and you have no probable cause, because you don't actually know of a law that was broken, you probably have no business being a cop. I'm all for going nuts on such cops. They deserve it.

I'm more friendly in regards to officers who stops you politely, never disarms you, and tells you stay there while they call the prosecutor to find out that you are not breaking any laws.
 

Citizen

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With regard to filing a complaint, I can respect citizen opinions that would opt for a lesser approach.I would like to include some additional info.

1. FOIA requests can be used to find out which Officer to compliment. I do recommend sending a compliment when appropriate.

2. Take your time deciding whether to complain or just write a letter recommending training, etc. If you have sent a FOIA request, you'll have a few days to consult the membership here, and think it over yourself.

Most importantly, you yourself may not recognize where rights or case law have been violated. I've seenposts where, upon careful scrutiny, the membership was able to point out police errors that weren't apparent to OPer, or the OPer didn't know about because he wasn't familiar with the intricacies of 4th Amendment case law.

3. Experience shows that police sometimes do not change theirspots easily. Lt. Wilson in Washington andLt. Aden in Alexandria are two quick examples of trouble that didn't resolve quickly with the "nice" approach. I recommend hitting hard the first time, as hard as you can. If you and I can become citizen screaming experts on the 4th Amendment so can the police. If they don't know the firearms statutes, whatare they doing contacting a peaceable citizen before they look them up?

4. You do not have to limit your complaint to violations of known police procedure, statutory law, or court opinions. Your 1st Amendment right to petition for redress of grievances is not limited by these considerations. If you allow these considerations to limit what you complain about, you are handing control of your complaint to the police policy-setters, the legislature, and the courts--that is, the government. Every time they move the line, you will have less you can complain about.

5. You don't know what the officer's personnel file already looks like. The police officer's supervisor may already have one or two complaints against the officer. A good supervisor may bekeeping a careful eye on a problem officer. Also, its a fair bet that the officerdidn't decide to start twisting the 4th Amendment or being pushy that very morning just before he met you.

6. I strongly recommend becoming familiar with 4th Amendment case law. The firearms statutes in your state will affect yourOC encounterwith a police officer far less than the 4th Amendment. The statutes only regulate your OC (or not). The 4th Amendment applies from the moment the police officer contacts you until you part company. The 4th Amendment has much greater bearing on a police encounter than the firearm statutes, assuming you're in compliance with the firearm statutes.
 

LEO 229

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ama-gi wrote:
Being illegally detained is a serious mistake and I'm just fine with filing a complaint letter in response to that. It will prevent other officers from making the same mistake.
Absolutely..... I would agree there.

If it was based on OC alone then the officer and the department needs to get the word so that nobody wastes there time in the future.

The fact remains that it is not against any state lawswith the exception of under 18. Those that are out tending to their business and not acting suspicious or committing a crime.. ;) should be allowed to do so without interruption.
 

LEO 229

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Citizen wrote:
With regard to filing a complaint, I can respect citizen opinions that would opt for a lesser approach.I would like to include some additional info.

1. FOIA requests can be used to find out which Officer to compliment. I do recommend sending a compliment when appropriate.

...Snipped
Thanks Citizen.... Cops get so few and are often "told" they did a good job. The department needs to know they have done so as well.
 

sjhipple

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LEO 229 wrote:
ama-gi wrote:
Being illegally detained is a serious mistake and I'm just fine with filing a complaint letter in response to that. It will prevent other officers from making the same mistake.
Absolutely..... I would agree there.

If it was based on OC alone then the officer and the department needs to get the word so that nobody wastes there time in the future.

The fact remains that it is not against any state lawswith the exception of under 18. Those that are out tending to their business and not acting suspicious or committing a crime.. ;) should be allowed to do so without interruption.
I agree with you. There are plenty of lawful detainments (including those of innocent people)
 
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