Ordering Traffic Video, Red Light Camera Stills, Police Reports, and FOIA Requests
If you ever needed to get something important from the government in a timely manner, you know that it can be a headache. Outdated and unhelpful websites, spending what seems like hours on hold, and ambiguous forms make the task daunting. In order to cut through some of the confusion, see below for some helpful guidelines in getting your police report, traffic video, red light camera stills, or submitted FOIA requests.
- How to Order Traffic Camera Footage
- How do I obtain traffic camera video or images from red light cameras in Chicago?
- How do I see videos or images from speed traffic cameras in Chicago?
- How long do traffic cameras keep footage?
- How do I get other types of video footage of a car accident?
- What if obtaining footage from traffic cameras requires a subpoena?
- How to Order a Police Report
- How to Make a FOIA Request
- What is a FOIA request?
- Can you do a FOIA request by yourself?
- How do I request FOIA documents?
- How do I know which agency to send my FOIA request to in Illinois?
- What can I request under FOIA?
- What is not covered by FOIA?
- How long does a FOIA request take?
- Is there a charge for FOIA?
- Can a FOIA request be denied?
- What can I do if the agency denied my FOIA request?
- How to Get Help with Traffic Camera Footage, Police Report, or FOIA Requests
- Related How-to Guides
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How to Order Traffic Camera Footage
Types of Traffic Camera Footage
Traffic camera footage of an accident or traffic violation can come from a variety of sources including:
- actual traffic cameras, like red light cameras or automated speed enforcement cameras
- business surveillance cameras
- dash cameras from police vehicles
- other cameras like witness cellphones or home surveillance systems
The process for requesting traffic camera video varies depending on the type of footage that recorded your car accident or speeding violation.
How do I obtain traffic camera video or images from red light cameras in Chicago?
Think you saw a flash as you creeped up to an intersection? Worried that a red light camera may have gone off? A ticket along with a notice should arrive to the registered owner’s address within five to seven business days. If you think you received a red light ticket in the City of Chicago but cannot wait to see if you got a ticket in the mail, you can also check online. The Chicago Parking and Red Light Administration website allows you to gather some information about the alleged violation. You can search for parking tickets, view photos, view speed videos, view red light videos, and can even contest a ticket.
Once you have a ticket from Chicago’s red light cameras in hand, you can log in at chicagophotociteweb.com to view videos and/or stills of the alleged red light camera violation. You will need your ticket number and license plate number to access this type of footage from red light cameras.
How do I see videos or images from speed traffic cameras in Chicago?
To see photos, video, and speed of the alleged violation captured by speed traffic cameras in Chicago, visit violationinfo.com/Chicago/ and have your ticket number and license plate number handy.
How long do traffic cameras keep footage?
Footage of the constant stream of the intersections with cameras is available for 30 days. Alleged violations caught on a red light camera or speed camera is available for viewing up to two years. However, keep in mind that you only have a set amount of time to contest a ticket.
How do I get other types of video footage of a car accident?
If you want to get video footage from other sources including business surveillance cameras, home surveillance cameras, or police dash cameras, you may need to enlist the help of an experienced attorney to assist with your accident claim. They will act fast to ensure that any potential footage from traffic cameras is saved and preserved so it can be used as evidence in your favor. These are the steps they will take to get the footage of your auto accident quickly and efficiently:
Identify the type of camera footage that is trying to be obtained.
- Is it a traffic camera? If so, then the municipality controls the footage, see instructions above.
- Is it police dash camera footage? If so, then the police agency controls the footage .
- Is it private surveillance camera footage? If so, then the business or homeowner controls the surveillance camera footage.
- Contact the person, business, or municipality and confirm whether potential footage exists.
- Contact the person, business or entity with a written document demanding that the footage be preserved and saved. This document is customarily called a “Spoliation Letter.”
- Spoliation Letter must identify the date, approximate time, location, and language demanding that the video be preserved in anticipation of litigation. The letter should be sent certified mail to confirm receipt.
- Contact and confirm that the person, business or entity received the Spoliation Letter requesting that any footage be preserved.
What if obtaining footage from traffic cameras requires a subpoena?
If a subpoena is required before any video footage for the incident is released, then you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help. If you were involved in an accident and believe there is video footage, call The Kryder Law Group for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to answer your questions about obtaining footage from traffic cameras that are relevant to your case.
How to Order a Police Report
Police Report Contents
The first document created following a motor vehicle accident of any sort is a police report. The police report is a document written by the police officer investigating the accident. The purpose of the report is to memorialize all relevant details concerning the accident. This may include the names of all drivers involved, addresses, and contact information of all drivers and witnesses. The police report also details points of contact on the vehicles, weather conditions, and whether any tickets were issued.
Why do I need a copy of the police report?
Having a copy of the police report is essential to your accident claim and is needed to:
- Provide to your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company to assist with their evaluation;
- Provide to the hospital to assist in determining the severity of your injuries;
- Assist your attorney with notifying the proper insurance company of your personal injury and/or property damage claim;
- Assist your attorney with drafting the complaint for your lawsuit naming the proper at-fault driver.
What do I need to get a copy of the police report?
Before starting the process of getting a police report, you need to make sure you have:
- the date of crash
- the other driver’s first and last name
- the intersection or location of where the crash happened
Alternatively, if you have an RD number, you can provide that to responsible agency.
How long before the police report is available?
Generally, it takes a few business days before the police report is officially completed and is available to the public. Trying to obtain a police report before it is in the system will lead to frustrating dead ends.
How do I request a copy of the police report?
Each agency will handle requests differently. For accidents investigated by the Chicago Police Department, you can get police reports two ways (if you are looking for a police report for a car accident, traffic crash reports are also available online):
- You can make the request in person at the Central Police Headquarters located at 3510 S. Michigan, 1st Floor, Room 1043 in Chicago, Illinois. Make sure you have the information needed as described above.
- You can mail your request to the Chicago Police Department, Attention Records Inquiry and Customer Service Section, Unit 163, 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, Illinois.
- If you request the police report by mail, you will need a self addressed stamped envelope and a check or money order made payable to the “Department of Revenue, City of Chicago.”
How much does it cost to order a police report in Chicago?
It is .50 cents for each copy of the case report, $5.00 for each copy of the traffic crash report, and $20.00 for a report that is generated by an accident reconstruction officer or their team.
How to Make a FOIA Request
What is a FOIA request?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides public access to all government agency records with some exceptions. Agencies are required to disclose the accessible records when they receive a written request.
For example, you can make a FOIA request for access to the City of Chicago’s 24-hour streaming video from red-light cameras.
Can you do a FOIA request by yourself?
Yes! There are no requirements to be an attorney or in a lawsuit in order to submit requests under FOIA.
How do I request FOIA documents?
If information is not publicly available, you can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. These requests must be made to the responsible city, state, or federal agency, and each agency will describe specifically how to submit the FOIA request. Many agencies will offer a stock or template request form and will accept these requests electronically.
All Freedom of Information requests to the City of Chicago departments can be made online at chicago.gov/publicrecords and must include the following information:
- Your name, mailing address, and contact information
- A detailed description of the records that are being requested
How do I know which agency to send my FOIA request to in Illinois?
You can find a neatly compiled list of Illinois Agencies and their respective contacts on the Illinois.gov website. The list conveniently includes e-mails and physical addresses.
What can I request under FOIA?
A request can be made for any agency record. However, you must articulate with specificity what kind of documents you seek and what kind of format you would like to receive them. An agency does not need to create new records, research or analyze its records, or answer questions when responding to the requests. A FOIA request is a request for document production and that is it.
What is not covered by FOIA?
You cannot request records that do not belong to the agency itself. You also cannot request personal requests or to physically inspect artifacts or samples. Additional exemptions to FOIA requests are trade secrets, internal agency rules, matters classified due to national security concerns, or those explicitly exempted by statute.
How long does a FOIA request take?
If the request is made to a federal agency, the request must be granted or denied within twenty business days. If a delay is expected, the agency will inform you in writing and explain why it needs an extension. The extension is to not exceed ten business days beyond the original twenty.
In Illinois, the Agency will respond within five business days or twenty-one days if it is a commercial request as defined by FOIA.
Is there a charge for FOIA?
There is a nominal charge for black and white copying that is $.15 per page if the total amount of pages is more than fifty. Color copy or oversized copy may result in increased charges. If there is any fee to be paid, the agency will inform you in writing.
Can a FOIA request be denied?
Yes. If the custodian of records at the agency determines an exemption (like above) applies or that there are no records that correlate to your request, your request will be denied in writing.
What can I do if the agency denied my FOIA request?
In Illinois, 5 ILCS 140/3.5 section 9.5 gives us the answer. If you disagree with the Agency’s reasoning of its denial, you can file a request for review in writing to the Public Access Coordinator in the Office of the Attorney General. This must be done no later than sixty days after the denial. Your request must be signed by you and include a summary of the arguments supporting your position. A person may also file a lawsuit in your local circuit court for injunctive and/or declaratory relief.
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Get Help with Traffic Camera Footage, Police Report, or FOIA Requests
If you have questions about requesting a copy of the video, police report, or other publicly available evidence for your car accident, it may be time to get help! Contact our experienced personal injury law firm for a free consultation with an attorney. Car accidents can be traumatic and it’s time to get answers from the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at The Kryder Law Group.