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Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
GREG ABBOTT
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December 17, 2002

Ms. Marva Gay
Senior Assistant County Attorney
Harris County
1019 Congress, 15th Floor
Houston, Texas 77002-1700

OR2002-7245

Dear Ms. Gay:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 174075.

The Harris County Sheriff's Department (the "department") received a request for copies of various personnel documents pertaining to a named sergeant. You state that you have provided the requestor with copies of the requested documents, except for the records concerning the sergeant's extra jobs. You claim that this particular requested information is excepted from disclosure pursuant to section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.108(b)(1) provides:

(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 the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

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

Gov't Code 552.108(b)(1). Generally, 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. See Open Records Decision No. 434 at 3(1986). You state that the release of the submitted information could endanger the life or physical safety of the named sergeant because individuals with criminal intent could use the information concerning whether he works at an extra job, and the times and specific locations of that job, to build an advantage for committing crimes against him or the business at which he works. Based on our review of your arguments and the information at issue, we conclude that the release of portions of this information would interfere with law enforcement and crime prevention. See Open Records Decision No. 456 (1987) (forms indicating location of off-duty police officers). Accordingly, we conclude that the department may withhold the information that we have marked pursuant to section 552.108(b)(1) of the Government Code. However, we also conclude that you have failed to sufficiently demonstrate how the release of the remaining submitted information would interfere with law enforcement. See Open Records Decision No. 484 (1987) (stating that there is legitimate public interest in knowing that officer holds outside employment). Since the department has not raised any additional arguments against disclosure of this information, we conclude that the department must release it 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,

Ronald J. Bounds
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
RJB/lmt
Ref: ID# 174075
Enc. Marked documents

c: Ms. Janette Rodriques
Reporter
Houston Chronicle
801 Texas Avenue
Houston, Texas 77002
(w/o enclosures)


 

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