Click for home page Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
John Cornyn
image
 

January 19, 2000

Ms. Kimberley Mickelson
Olson & Olson
Three Allen Center, Suite 3485
333 Clay Street
Houston, Texas 77002

OR2000-0174

Dear Ms. Mickelson:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 131790.

The City of Friendswood (the "city") received a request for "all cellular mobile phone numbers and pagers numbers and whom they are assigned to which are paid for by the city." You claim that the mobile telephone numbers and pager numbers used by law enforcement officers in their official duties are excepted from disclosure under section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code. We assume that the city has released all other mobile telephone and pager numbers responsive to the request. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

You contend that section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code excepts the submitted information from required public disclosure; however, section 552.108(b)(1) is more appropriate. Section 552.108(b) 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 or prosecution . . . ." This section excepts from disclosure the internal records and notations of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors when their release would interfere with law enforcement and crime prevention. Open Records Decision No. 531 at 2 (1989) (quoting Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706, 710 (Tex. 1977)). When section 552.108(b) is claimed, the agency claiming it must reasonably explain, if the information does not supply the explanation on its face, how releasing the information would interfere with law enforcement. Open Records Decision No. 434 at 3 (1986).

Open Records Decision No. 506 specifically held that the predecessor to section 552.108 (b) "protects the cellular mobile phone numbers assigned to county officials and employees with specific law enforcement responsibilities." Open Records Decision No. 506 at 2 (1988). As you represent that the numbers in question are those of law enforcement officers, we agree that release of the mobile telephone and pager numbers would interfere with law enforcement. The city may withhold that information. However, the mere fact that a law enforcement officer has a mobile telephone number or pager assigned to him is not protected by section 552.108. The city must release the list of names of law enforcement officers to whom mobile phones or pagers are assigned.

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,

Patricia Michels Anderson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

PMA/jc

Ref: ID# 131790

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Jeff Branscome
308 Woodstream Circle
Friendswood, Texas 77546
(w/o enclosures)


 

POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US
An Equal Employment Opportunity Employer


Home | ORLs