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April 30, 1999

Mr. Steven J. Duskie
Police Legal Advisor
City of Corpus Christi
P.O. Box 9016
Corpus Christi, Texas 78469-9016

OR99-1205

Dear Mr. Duskie:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 124734.

The Corpus Christi Police Department (the "department") received a request for four categories of information concerning a complaint made by a named individual against a police officer. You contend that the requested information is excepted from required public disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the documents at issue.

You argue that the requested materials, including audio tapes and statements, are excepted from disclosure by section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 143.089(g) of the Local Government Code. Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information protected by other statutes. You state that the requested information is maintained in the department's internal personnel file as outlined in section 143.089(g) of the Local Government Code. You explain that the City of Corpus Christi has adopted chapter 143 of the Local Government Code and is a civil service city. Section 143.089 of the Local Government Code contemplates two different types of personnel files, one that the city's police department is required to maintain as part of the police officer's civil service file, and one that the city's police department may maintain for its own internal use. Local Gov't Code 143.089(a), (g).

Section 143.089(g) reads as follows:

A fire or police department may maintain a personnel file on a fire fighter or police officer employed by the department for the department's use, but the department may not release any information contained in the department file to any agency or person requesting information relating to a fire fighter or police officer. The department shall refer to the director [of the civil-service commission] or the director's designee a person or agency that requests information that is maintained in the fire fighter's or police officer's personnel file.

Subsection (g) authorizes city police and fire departments to maintain for their own use a file on a police officer or fire fighter that is separate from the file maintained by the city civil service commission. "The department may not release any information contained in the department file to any agency or person," but instead "the department shall refer to the director [of the civil-service commission] or the director's designee a person or agency that requests information that is maintained in the fire fighter's or police officer's personnel file." Local Gov't Code 143.089(g); see City of San Antonio v. Texas Attorney General, 851 S.W.2d 946, 952 (Tex. App.--Austin, 1993, writ denied).

In cases in which a city's police department takes disciplinary action against an officer, it is required by Local Government Code section 143.089(a)(2) to transfer records relating to the investigation and disciplinary action to the civil service commission. Such records may not be withheld under the Local Government Code's provisions. Local Gov't Code 143.089(f); Open Records Decision No. 562 at 6 (1990). You explain that the complaint and investigation at issue did not result in any disciplinary action against the police officer. Consequently, we conclude that you must withhold the requested information under section 552.101 in conjunction with section 143.089(g) of the Local Government Code.

Because we make a determination under section 552.101, we need not address you claim under section 552.108. We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

Don Ballard
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JDB\eaf

Ref: ID# 124734

encl. Submitted Information

cc: Mr. Wade Armonde Way
Attorney and Counselor at Law
2820 South Padre Island Drive, Suite 180A
Corpus Christi, Texas 78415
(w/o enclosures)


 

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