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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 83193 Find in a Library
Title: Status of Law Enforcement Manuals Under the Freedom of Information Act
Journal: Northwestern University Law Review  Volume:75  Issue:4  Dated:(1980)  Pages:734-768
Author(s): D R Modes
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 35
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses whether law enforcement manuals must be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), with attention to congressional intent and judicial interpretation of the act.
Abstract: The guiding philosophy of the FOIA is that agency information should generally be disclosed to the public; only narrow provisions for withholding information are specified. This philosophy suggests the propriety of limiting protection for law enforcement guidelines to those situations in which the guidelines can be of legitimate interest only to those within the particular agency charged with giving or carrying out the instructions therein. Of all the exemption provisions of the FOIA, only the privilege for internal personnel rules and practices appears to support any withholding of these guidelines. Allowing a narrow exemption from disclosure requirements only for those agency law enforcement directives whose disclosure could not reasonably advance any public interest should enable the courts to reconcile the FOIA's purpose and language favoring broad disclosure with the policy considerations which require some degree of secrecy for sensitive law enforcement instructions. This narrow scope for the privilege to withhold law enforcement instructions from the risk of public scrutiny is inferable from the FOIA's language, structure, and purposes. The article includes 161 footnotes. (Author summary modified)
Index Term(s): Confidential records access; Freedom of Information Act; Information dissemination; Police decisionmaking; Privileged communications
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