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LEADS Not Subject to FOIA

January 14th, 2016

Better Government Assoc. v. Zaruba, 2014 IL App (2d) 140071

The Second District Appellate Court has recently confirmed LEADS data held by local law enforcement agencies is not subject to the FOIA.  In this case, the BGA submitted a FOIA request to the DuPage County Sherriff seeking records disclosing the vehicles and persons who were subjects of LEADS inquiries conducted by Patrick Zaruba, the teenage son of Sheriff John Zaruba.

In response to the request, the Sherriff argued he could not provide the information requested because it constituted LEADS data prohibited from disclosure by agreement with the Illinois State Police and the regulations of the Illinois Administrative Code.  The BGA argued the request did not seek LEADS data inasmuch as it was seeking data inputted to LEADS through searches not data provided by LEADS and the withholding of the information would result in the inability to identify abuses of the LEADS system.

The Appellate Court affirmed the Sherriff’s denial of access to the requested information based on Section 7(1)(a) of the FOIA which exempts from disclosure “information specifically prohibited from disclosure by federal or State law or rules and regulation implementing federal or State law.”  See 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a).  The Court found the Illinois State Police considered the inputted queries LEADS data not subject to disclosure.  It further discredited the BGA’s argument regarding identifying abuses of the LEADS system in reasoning the State Police audits LEADS and administers sanctions addressing noncompliance with LEADS policies.