I asked a few questions of my government and phrased it as an open records request. I got an answer on half of them and a response on all of them.

The police claim they cannot answer the question, 'How many bullets did the police purchase for 2010 and 2020?'. Here is the phrasing used in the denial of my public records request: "The release of how many bullets purchased in 2010 & 2020 may not be releasable per RSA 91:A. It could constitute the disclosure of investigative techniques or procedures. " I found, RSA (Revised Statutes Annotated) 91-A. One concern I have is whether or not they may secretly use "emergency" powers and lie about it claiming they can deny requests to discover police procedures.

I couldn't find language that allows hiding procedures or general investigations by citizens of the police. Are the police legally allowed to hide basic information like the number of bullets purchased? If they aren't, what legal recourse is open to the citizenry denied such public records?

-- UPDATE --

"Your request in the amount of bullets and purchase has not been denied at this time. I was stating that it is possible that it could constitute the disclosure of investigative techniques or procedures."

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    did you state a compelling reason why you inquire? It might be considered a bad idea to tell citizens how much ammo is in the stocks of police stations, how much ammo is on each officer or how much accuracy training the officers undergo - all things that can be estimated from the purchase of ammunition.
    – Trish
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 17:21
  • I heard a rumor that the reason bullets are expensive and hard to find is because police are purchasing large amounts of ammo. The reason they would do that is to create a de facto gun prohibition. I hope you understand why I wouldn't want to be forthcoming in my investigation of possible venal activity.
    – haleonj
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 19:24
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    @haleonj Nonsense. Someone buying lots of bullets only means that factories will increase production. Most likely issues are trade disruptions caused by COVID (there are lots of articles about it) and some Americans celebrating democracy by stockpiling ammo for WWIII.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 19:28
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    @haleonj Doing so cant possibly work long term and would require nationwide cooperation to even be somewhat effective short term. Seems unlikely to actually be happening.
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 19:28
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    @Trish My understsnding is that state FOI/Open Records requests do not normally include any reason. If the information is disclosable then anyone is entitled to know it, and if it is not, then a "good reason" will not normally change that decision. I know that when i had occasion to make a state FOI request in NJ about 10 years ago, the forms had no place to even indicate a reason for wanting the information. Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


It is common in state FOI or open access laws to exempt from disclosure records pertaining to police investigations. In some cases police procedures are also exampled. 91-A:5 Exemptions. (included in the document linked in the question) lists 6 exemptions, part of number IV is:

Without otherwise compromising the confidentiality of the files, nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit a body or agency from releasing information relative to health or safety from investigative files on a limited basis to persons whose health or safety may be affected.

This seem to imply an exemption for "investigative files", although no such exemption is specified in 91-A.

However, I find it hard to see how the amount of ammunition purchased by the state as a whole reveals "police procedures" in a way which would compromise security or be reasonably exempt. In any case the state budget is almost surely a matter of public record, and it may well indicate the dollar amount of ammunition purchases, even if it does not give the number of rounds purchased.

Or proceedings may be taken under the law. 91-A:7 Violation says:

Any person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter may petition the superior court for injunctive relief. The courts shall give proceedings under this chapter priority on the court calendar. Such a petitioner may appear with or without counsel. The petition shall be deemed sufficient if it states facts constituting a violation of this chapter, and may be filed by the petitioner or his counsel with the clerk of court or any justice thereof. Thereupon the clerk of court or any justice shall order service by copy of the petition on the person or persons charged.

One might inquire of the office of the court clerk for more details on how this is done, and any fees.

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    I concur. I cannot see this being commercially sensitive information nor any indication of the number of operational shots fired. I would send 100's down the range at my certification and re-qualification shoots in a year - and 1000's when in the military.
    – user35069
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 17:09

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