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Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
GREG ABBOTT
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December 10, 2002

Mr. Brad Norton
Assistant City Attorney
City of Austin
P.O. Box 1546
Austin, Texas 78767-1546

OR2002-7024

Dear Mr. Norton:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173353.

The Austin Police Department (the "department") received a request for CAD (computer-aided dispatch) information relating to the arrest of a named individual. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the information you submitted. We also received correspondence from the requestor. See Gov't Code 552.304 (any person may submit written comments stating why information at issue in request for attorney general decision should or should not be released).

Section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "[i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime . . . if . . . release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime[.]" Section 552.108(b)(1) excepts from disclosure "[a]n internal record or notation of a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that is maintained for internal use in matters relating to law enforcement . . . if . . . release of the internal record or notation would interfere with law enforcement or prosecution[.]" A governmental body that raises section 552.108 must reasonably explain, if the requested information does not supply an explanation on its face, how and why section 552.108 is applicable to the information. See Gov't Code 552.301(e)(1)(A); Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977); Open Records Decision No. 434 at 2-3 (1986).

You state that the submitted CAD information relates to a pending investigation. You claim that the release of this information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. We note, however, that the submitted CAD information is substantially the same as the information held to be public in Houston Chronicle Publishing Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976); see also Open Records Decision Nos. 649 at 3 (1996) (information contained in CAD reports is substantially same as information specifically held to be public in Houston Chronicle), 394 at 3-4 (1983) (no qualitative difference between information contained in radio logs and cards and basic information under Houston Chronicle). Therefore, the department may not withhold the submitted CAD information under section 552.108.

We note, however, that the department may be required to withhold a small amount of this information under section 552.130 of the Government Code. Section 552.130 excepts from disclosure information relating to "a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state[.]" Gov't Code 552.130(a)(2). We have marked a license plate number that the department must withhold under section 552.130 if it is a Texas license plate number. With the possible exception of that license plate number, the submitted CAD information must be released.(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).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the Texas Building and Procurement Commission at 512/475-2497.

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. We note that a third party may challenge this ruling by filing suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor. Gov't Code 552.325. 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/sdk
Ref: ID# 173353
Enc: Submitted documents

c: Mr. John C. Kuhn
Kuhn, Doyle & Kuhn
603 West Eighth Street
Austin, Texas 78701
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. We note that the CAD report also contains other private information that the department ordinarily would be required to withhold under sections 552.101 and 552.130. In this instance, however, the requestor is the authorized representative of the person to whom this information pertains and has a special right of access to the information under section 552.023. Should the department receive another request from a person who would not have a right of access to any of the submitted CAD information, you should resubmit this same information and request another decision.
 

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