Public Records Requests

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is committed to transparency and will furnish all requested public records as promptly as possible.

Under North Carolina public records law  General Statue §132 and various other statutes, certain personal or confidential information is not public, and must be redacted or protected. We are not required to create a record that does not exist, nor compile a record or records in any format that does not already exist.

Making your request as exact as possible including names, dates, and specific search terms will help expedite fulfilling your request. Please allow additional time to review/redact very large requests. Excessively large requests will be provided in batches as they are completed.

We will provide electronic copies unless otherwise requested. Many public records are already available online without making a public records request. 

 

Submit a Public Records Request

If you are a member of the media working under a deadline, please include this information in your request.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a public record?

What is a public record?

According to North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 132, public records are defined as, “all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions.”

These items are considered to be the property of the people, and copies shall be provided for free or at minimal cost.

What is NOT a public record?

What is NOT a public record?

Examples of items that are not considered public record include:

  • Social security numbers and other personal identifying information.
  • Sensitive public security information;
  • Emergency response plans;
  • Law enforcement agency recordings;
  • 911 databases;
  • Criminal investigations;
  • Intelligence information records;
  • Trial preparation materials;
  • Attorney-client privileged communications;
  • State tax information;
  • Public enterprise billing information;
  • Innocence Inquiry Commission records;
  • Alarm registration information;

For full details regarding items not considered public record, see  NCGS Chapter 132.

Submitting a public records request

Submitting a public records request

Public records requests may be submitted in person, by mail, by phone or through electronic means. The preferred method for receiving public records requests is through the department’s online public request form, which allows DPS to better track requests and respond in a timely manner.

Once a request is submitted, a staff member will contact the requester within three business days to acknowledge the request.

NC Department of Public Safety
4201 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4201
(919) 733-5027

How quickly are requests provided?

How quickly are requests provided?

By law, state agencies are required to respond to public records requests “as promptly as possible.” Response times may vary based on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the request, the volume of records requested, the amount of time needed to redact confidential information and the resources required to fulfill the request.

Per DPS policy, if staff find a request to be ambiguous, overly broad, or very time-intensive, a staff member may contact the requestor and attempt to clarify, narrow, or revise the request.  A narrowly-tailored request limits the expenditure of department resources, and therefore allows the agency to respond to requests in a shorter timeframe.

To assist our staff in providing a timely response to your request, we recommend the following when crafting your request:

  • Be specific – Carefully consider what records you would like to request. Are there specific documents you are interested in? What divisions or staff members are included in your request? The more detail you can provide, the easier it is for our staff to locate any responsive public records.
     
  • Provide dates – A date range can further help staff narrow the request to a particular timeframe, allowing for more efficient collection of records.

In many cases, simple public records requests can be fulfilled within a matter of days. Complex requests, especially those that require collecting and reviewing large quantities of emails or redacting confidential information, may take weeks or months to complete.