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Behold! The Most Snarky Response In History Of Public Records Requests

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National Archives (Shutterstock) In the United States, we have a wonderful law called the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which allows us to request all sorts of records from government agencies. It’s not perfect, and implementation varies (Florida, for example, supplemented FOIA with a very giving state law), but it’s a valuable tool, especially for journalists. Enter MuckRock, a website and non-profit organization devoted to open government that should be appointment reading for all of you.

One of Muckrock’s ongoing projects has been the “Drone Census,” which tracks the use of drones in police departments across the country.  FOIA requests are filed seeking information from different law enforcement agencies about their drone programs. Results varied wildly. On Friday, they decided to spotlight the strangest of them all, which came from the police department in Brockton, Massachusetts: A single page PDF file that came attached to an email with no message in it. That PDF contains:

  • A photo of flying saucers captioned “Our current fleet of drones.”
  • Another photo, this time of a model airplane, captioned “Our super top secret drone.”
  • Instructions for making a paper airplane captioned “Plans for our future super double secret drones (please don’t tell anyone” (Missing parenthesis in original document)

Two days later, Shawn Musgrave, who filed the request, sent this reply:

Checking in again to confirm that your last message is your final answer to my records request.

Respectfully,
Shawn

Two days after THAT, he sent this:

Checking in again to confirm that your last message is your final answer to my records request.

Respectfully,
Shawn

Almost three years and dozens of automated follow-up emails later, the Brockton Police have yet to send any additional replies. LawNewz attempted to get someone from the department to comment on this topic, but our efforts to get a public information officer of some kind on the phone were unsuccessful.

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