The National Freedom of Information Coalition conducted a three-part “Public Records Bootcamp” training program in partnership with Uncovered: A Cold Case Platform.
The Bootcamp, conducted three Thursday evenings in April 2021, each engaged more than 40 participants interested in using public records to help solve cold cases.
“Working with NFOIC to provide this level of training and access to experts and expertise has been truly amazing,” said Ashlee Fujawa, Head of Community at Uncovered. “This partnership underscores our mission to use the power of technology, collective impact, and publicly available information to do good. We look forward to continuing to work together to provide even more opportunities for those in the true crime community to turn their interest into advocacy and use their skills to uncover answers and bring peace to the families of the murdered or missing.”
Uncovered’s data-driven platform provides citizens with access to hundreds of cold case overviews from those involved, timelines, and relevant locations via Google Maps. The organization also created a space for community engagement, offering anyone the ability to join the conversation. People can submit cases they believe need more attention and research. Uncovered believes in citizen detective work and offers a free Citizen Detective Guide, which helps individuals learn about how information is perceived, requested and collected.
The “Public Records Bootcamp” was a natural extension of the programming and resources Uncovered provides its users. David Cuillier, NFOIC Board president, and Erika Benton, NFOIC’s external partnership coordinator, hosted training sessions that covered how to find public records, how to craft public records requests, and how to troubleshoot denials.
“The attendees were some of the most engaged, thoughtful and passionate learners I have ever run across,” said Cuillier, associate professor at the University of Arizona. “This demonstrated that public records are incredibly valuable in bringing justice to our communities, and it’s great we can connect cold-case solvers with state coalitions for open government.”
The NFOIC hopes to continue the partnership with Uncovered, and to provide similar training opportunities for other partner organizations.