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OFFICE of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
GREG ABBOTT
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December 9, 2002

Mr. Brad Norton
Assistant City Attorney
City of Austin
P.O. Box 1088
Austin, Texas 78767-8845

OR2002-6979

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# 173332.

The Austin Police Department (the "department") received a request for a named police officer's complete chain of command, and for "all supervisors work phone numbers and e-mails." You state that the names and phone numbers of the chain of command will be released to the requestor. You claim, however, that the requested e-mail addresses information are excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.108 of the Government Code provides pertinent part:

(a) Information 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:

(1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of crime[.]

. . .

(b) An 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 is excepted from [required public disclosure] if:

(1) release of the internal record or notation would interfere with law enforcement or prosecution[.]

To claim this exception, a governmental body must explain, if the requested information does not supply the explanation on its face, how and why release of the requested information would interfere with law enforcement and crime prevention. Open Records Decision No. 562 at 10 (1990). See, e.g., Open Records Decision No. 252 at 3 (1980) (governmental body did not meet burden because it did not indicate why investigative procedures and techniques requested were any different from those commonly known). You state that "[t]he e-mail addresses requested here are records of the Austin Police Department that contain law enforcement information the release of which would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." Upon review, we find that the requested e-mail addresses only contain the names of the supervisors followed by the remainder of the department e-mail address, and thus we determine that the requested e-mail addresses do not contain law enforcement information. Furthermore, you have not explained, nor is it apparent to this office, how release of the requested e-mail addresses would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. Accordingly, we determine that the department may not withhold the requested e-mail addresses under section 552.108 of the Government Code. As you have raised no other exceptions to disclosure, we conclude that the department must release the e-mail addresses to the requestor.

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,

David R. Saldivar
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
DRS/seg
Ref: ID# 173332
Enc: Submitted documents

c: Mr. Mike Heintzelman
1004 Timmons Drive
Copperas Cove, Texas 76522
(w/o enclosures)


 

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