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April 17, 2000

Mr. Wyman Hopkins
Administrative Sergeant
Rosenberg Police Department
2120 Fourth Street
Rosenberg, Texas 77471

OR2000-1499

Dear Segeant Hopkins:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 134480.

The Rosenberg Police Department (the "department") received a request for information relating to an alleged offense. You have submitted the pertinent police report. You claim that it is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the information you submitted.

Section 552.108, the "law enforcement" exception, provides in relevant part that "[i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from [required public disclosure] if . . . release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime[.]" Gov't Code 552.108(a)(1). A governmental body that claims an exception to required public disclosure under section 552.108 must reasonably explain, if the responsive information does not do so on its face, how and why section 552.108 is applicable to that information. See Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977); Open Records Decision No. 434 at 2-3 (1986). You state that the requested information pertains to an active and pending investigation. Based on your representation and our review of the responsive police report, we find that you have demonstrated that the release of the report would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. See Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177, 186-87 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976) (court delineates law enforcement interests that are present in active cases); Open Records Decision No. 216 (1978). Therefore, we conclude that the submitted report may be withheld from public disclosure under section 552.108(a)(1). We note, however, that information normally found on the front page of an offense or arrest report is generally considered to be public. See Houston Chronicle, 531 S.W.2d at 186-87. You must release the type of information that is considered to be basic front-page offense and arrest report information, even if that information is not actually located on the front page of the report that you submitted. See Gov't Code 552.108(c); Open Records Decision No. 127 at 3-4 (1976) (summarizing the types of information deemed public by Houston Chronicle).

As we are able to make a determination under section 552.108, we do not address your claim under section 552.101.(1) This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

James W. Morris, III
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JWM/ch

Ref: ID# 134480

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Vicki Reyna
201 Rude Road
Rosenberg, Texas 77471
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. We note, however, that section 58.007 of the Family Code, which provides for the confidentiality of information relating to juvenile offenders, is not applicable to the police report that is at issue here.
 

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