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Freedom of Information Act Information & Request Instructions

Freedom of Information Act Information & Request Instructions 

Beginning January 1, 2010, key changes to the Act and the Open Meetings Act took effect to provide Illinois residents with a more open and accountable government.  This will ensure that the public has access to information about their government and its decision-making process.

To submit a request to Village Hall for Village Business (including Gas & Water Department requests), you may write out or fill out a request form and submit to the Village Clerk in the mailbox on her door if outside of regular business hours (Mon-Fri, 7am-1pm). 

To submit a request to the Westville Police Department if they are not in at 200 Washington (behind Village Hall), just call 442-0153 to have Dispatch have the officer currently on duty call you to arrange to meet you so that you may give your request to him.

What is FOIA?  It is a state statute that provides the public the right to access government documents and records.  The premise behind FOIA is that the public has a right to know what the government is doing.  The law provides that a person can ask a public body for a copy of its records on a specific subject and the public body must provide those records, unless there is an exemption in the statute that protects those records from disclosure (for example: records containing information concerning trade secrets or personal privacy).

Who is subject to FOIA?  Public bodies are subject to FOIA.  The judiciary is not subject to FOIA, but court records and proceedings generally are open to the public. 

Definition of Public Records: “all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body.”  A few examples of public records available under FOIA are: orders, rules, reports or studies, contracts, names, titles and salaries of public employees, and the voting records of public bodies.  Information can be available in electronic as well as paper format.

Who can file a FOIA request?  Anyone.  Any person, group, association, corporation, firm, partnership or organization has the right to file a FOIA request to any state or local public body, including any city, township or county office.