Maryland’s Public Information Act (PIA), 4-101 et seq. of the General Provisions Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, grants people the right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. The PIA applies to all three branches of Maryland state government, as well as local government entities.
Howard County Government asks that all PIA request be submitted in writing, either via letter or email, to the Office of Public Information (PIO) EXCEPT for those requests that seek ONLY records from the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) or Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS). If you seek records from HCPD and/or HCDFRS, as well as other Howard County Government departments, please submit your request to PIO. Please note, the Howard County Health Department, a State agency despite its name, is the custodian of its own records. For instructions on how to submit a PIA request to the Health Department, please visit its PIA website. Additionally, requests for records maintained by the Howard County Council, the legislative branch of government, are to be sent to the Council's Public Information Officer as the County Council is the custodian of its own records.
In your request to Howard County Government, it is important that you specifically describe the precise records you seek so that the County can thoroughly research your request. Please be sure to provide all necessary contact information as further discussions may be necessary to clarify your request.
If you ONLY seek records from HCPD OR HCDFRS (and no other Howard County Government department), you will need to contact HCPD or HCDFRS directly. To submit a request for records solely to HCPD, either email email@example.com or mail the request to: Howard County Police Department, Attn: Records Section, 3410 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043 . Additional contact information for HCPD can be found online or by calling 410-313-2250. Please note, if you are simply looking to obtain a copy of an existing police report (crime, accident and/or 911 recording), details on how to do so can be found on HCPD's Police Reports webpage. To submit a request for records solely to HCDFRS, either email FirePIA@howardcountymd.gov or mail: Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Public Information Officer, 2201 Warwick Way, Marriottsville, MD, 21104. Additional contact information for HCDFRS can be found online or by calling 410-313-6000.
Upon receipt of your request, the County has up to 10 working days to respond, unless we notify you in writing or by email within that time period that additional time is required for us to respond. Under the PIA, Howard County has the right to charge for search time exceeding two hours as the first two are free; this fee is based on the hourly salary of the individual(s) carrying out the search. In addition, while the County has the right to charge a copying fee of $0.25 per page for a black and white paper copy, as mentioned on page 10 of Howard County Council Resolution No. 61-2018, if electronic copies of the responsive records exist, they are free of charge. However, per page 10 of the Council Resolution, when an electronic response, or portion therefore, is too large to send electronically, PIO shall convert the response, or portion thereof, to paper, CD, DVD or flash drive, as the requestor specifies. The cost of a CD/DVD is $10 per disk and a flash drive is $20 per drive.
For more information on the PIA, visit Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General website.