Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Rights and Responsibilities
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.
A public record is any writing or recording regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption or other law applies to those records.
Sheriff Lenny Millholland is the custodian of all records for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office; therefore, all FOIA requests should be sent to his attention. The custodian of all email communications is the Director of Information Technology; therefore, direct FOIA requests for emails to that department.
- You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.
- You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
- If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.
- You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone. FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA. From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office when receiving your request if you put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. However, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect not to put it in writing.
- You must provide your name and legal address.
- Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity." It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting. It requires that you be specific enough so that the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office can identify and locate the records you are seeking.
- Your request must ask for records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
- You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office in the regular course of business. For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records
- If the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has questions about your request, please cooperate with the staff's efforts to clarify the type of records you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that it understands what records you are seeking.
Where to Send A FOIA Request or Questions Regarding FOIA:
Captain Donald Lang
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office
1080 Coverstone Drive
Winchester VA, 22602
ATTENTION: FOIA Officer