The Gloucester Police Department website doesn't provide the department's email address so I asked their Facebook page for one. I told them I needed to make a public records, but instead of providing and email address they gave the department's postal address. After this story was published to social media the Gloucester police apologized and provided the email address (see update below).
Refusal to provide an email address for public records requests creates two extra barriers for the public to overcome when trying to receive records and needlessly increases the time the process takes.
The first barrier we've encountered related to mailing in requests is that the department can claim they never received it. The second barrier is that the appeals process works quickest (still slow) through email, so being able to forward requests to the Supervisor of Records is very helpful.
The process of obtaining records is obviously slowed by the comparatively slow process of sending and receiving physical mail compared to the instant nature of digital communication.
But, don't worry, I submitted my records request to the Gloucester Police Department right through Facebook, so the process wouldn't be slowed down and with the handy “seen it” feature I even know the department received and viewed my request.
I put in an extra request for a list of all Gloucester police email addresses, and I'll post them so no one else has to jump through these hoops. The official departmental response came from a mobile device, so I put in a request for the last three months worth of text messages received and sent by the device. Since the device is sending a receiving departmental correspondence it must be department issued right?
Gloucester wasn't alone in not posting their email address, but in every other case I've found so far the department provided an email address when asked for one on Facebook. To their credit Gloucester police say they are processing the requests, so until they provide an email address feel free to make requests through their Facebook page.
Several minutes after publishing this piece and posting it to social media the Gloucester police apologized and provided me with an email address to send future record requests to. For anyone looking for Gloucester police records their email is firstname.lastname@example.org.