Open Records Information - FAQ

What is an “open records request”?

An open records request is a request for public information contained in the files or records of a Tennessee governmental agency, including the Shelby County Sheriff's Office (“SCSO”). Public information requests are governed by the sections of the Tennessee Code Annotated.

An open records or public information request must be for inspection or copies of an existing document or record. We are not required to generate a new document in order to respond to a request.

New: Shelby County Sheriff's Office Policy is considered public information and copies of official Sheriff's Office Policy may be obtained through a Special Services Request to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office Records and Identification Division

When do I pay for the information provided?

We normally will provide the requested documents prior to payment and invoice you for the charges. If the estimated cost exceeds $25.00 and we have provided you with the written estimate described above, we may require that you provide a deposit in that amount prior to fulfilling your request.

If you have an unpaid invoice from a previous request, you will be required to pay for the present request in full prior to delivery. In addition, if previous unpaid invoices exceed $25.00, we will require a deposit equal to the previous unpaid invoices before we prepare a response to the present request.

What is “Public Information”?

Public information is any information collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or in connection with the transaction of official business by a governmental body, or for a governmental body if the governmental body owns the information or has a right to access to it.

How do I request public information?

To request public information from us, the request must be in writing. Mail, hand deliver, fax, or email your written request to the following individuals designated as organizational custodians for service on SCSO for records (open records or subpoenas duces tecum) follow this link to SCSO Information Bulletin 150.03 Organizational Custodians for Service on SCSO for Records.

Telephone inquiries may be made to the appropriate individuals at (901)-222-5656.

What should I include in my request?

Complete contact information is essential, so please be sure to include your name, address, and telephone number. This additional information is particularly important if you submit an email request. Describe the documents that you desire with as much specifics as possible. If you don't know exactly what documents may be involved, describe the information you desire as specific as possible, and we will determine if responsive documents exist. If your description is not clear or could result in a very large number of documents, we will contact you to determine if the request can be clarified or narrowed. You may disclose your purpose to us if you believe that knowledge will help us locate the documents you seek, but this disclosure is not requested or required.

How long will it take to fill my request?

We will respond to a request for clearly public information as promptly as is reasonably possible, but generally not later than 10 business days after receipt of the request. If you have a particular need for expedited treatment, we will attempt to meet that need but cannot guarantee an early response date.

Is there any information maintained by the SCSO that I cannot inspect or obtain a copy of?

Yes. We are prevented from disclosing certain information because the information is confidential by law. We withhold information that we consider to be confidential by law.

Will personal information that I provide to the SCSO be disclosed?

Our policy is to respect an individual's right to privacy to the extent permitted by law. Generally, your name, address and telephone number, your written request for public information, and the fact that you contacted us, as evidenced by our records of that contact, would constitute public information that we might be required to disclose. However, we will not disclose details for which the public has no particular cognizable interest such as your social security number.

What does it cost to receive public information?

The permissible charges for public information are set by the Shelby County Public Records Commission follow this link to: SCSO Information Bulletin 152.07

In general, the charge will be $0.25 per page plus the cost of postage (or other delivery method, at your request).

If it takes more than 15 minutes to copy your request, the charge will be $0.25 per page plus personnel costs necessary to compile the documents at a rate of $20.00 per hour, in addition to the charge for postage. We do not ask for payment if the total of charges is less than $5.00. We may alter this general rule in certain circumstances, although typically not by a significant amount.

If the estimated cost of fulfilling your request exceeds $25.00, we will provide you with an itemized written statement of the cost, and tell you if a less costly alternative is available.

You must respond in writing within 10 days after the date the estimate is sent that you will accept the cost, or that you desire any stated alternative, or your request will be considered withdrawn. Subsequent to your response, if it appears the actual cost will be more than 20% above the estimate previously given, we will again notify you by providing a revised written estimate.

Again, if you do not respond within 10 days, your request will be considered withdrawn. Special service fees from SCSO's Records and Identification section must be paid in advance. No personal checks are accepted by Records and Identification.