Even as late as a few years ago, if you wanted to get a public record from Guilford County government, you called down to the Guilford County Clerk to the Board’s office and told them what you wanted.
These days, however, like just about everything else regarding the county, records requests have become a far more formal affair, with those wanting to see documents being directed to a web portal to file their request.
Since the service began on June 1, 2021, reporters and other county residents have submitted over 1,400 public records requests online to Guilford County government’s “NextRequest” service. Guilford County’s software platforms track the records requests across multiple county departments, standardizes the processing, and allows people to monitor the status of their requests.
Users must provide a name and a valid email address so county employees can communicate with them regarding the request.
Reporters generally don’t like the system since, once a request is made, it is posted publicly – therefore, those trying to break a big story often use other means to obtain information so that other media outlets won’t know what stories they’re working on.
Some common requests are those directed toward the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department asking for information regarding local shootings or other crimes, and there are also a lot of people who use the NextRequest system to obtain recordings of 911 calls of interest.
Mugshots are also a common request, while some people ask for copies of wills and others want copies of their divorce papers.
If county officials can’t fulfill a request, they inform the user and try to steer them in the right direction.
Other requests include things like this: “We are conducting a property condition assessment of Childcare property at 5527 West Market Street, Greensboro, North Carolina 27409. The property was constructed in approximately 1972 and is comprised of one building….Please accept this email as an open records request for the following information: Open building/code enforcement violations; Open fire code violations; Open zoning violations; Zoning designation.”
That was directed to the county’s inspections division.
If you wish to make a request of your own – or just want to see what others are asking about – you can find the tool https://guilfordcountync.nextrequest.com/request.