|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
January 7, 1999
Ms. E. Cary Grace
Dear Ms. Grace:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Open Records Act (the "act"), chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 120937.
The City of Houston Police Department (the "department") received a request for a specified incident report. In response to the request, you submit to this office for review a copy of the information at issue. You state that the "Police Department will make available to the requestor the Public Release Information portions of the requested incident report."(1) However, you assert that the remaining information is 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, the "law enforcement exception," excepts from public disclosure information 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. Gov't Code § 552.108(a)(1). Generally, a governmental body claiming an exception under section 552.108 must reasonably explain, if the information does not supply the explanation on its face, how and why the release of the requested information would interfere with law enforcement. See Gov't Code §§ 552.108(a)(1), (b)(1), .301(b)(1); see also Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977).
You state that the requested information concerns a case which "is still open, and the investigation will continue upon the department's receipt of further information or evidence." Based on your representation, we find that release of the requested information 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 (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). Therefore, we conclude that, except for the front page information, the department may withhold the requested information from disclosure under section 552.108(a)(1). Although section 552.108(a)(1) authorizes you to withhold this information from disclosure, you may choose to release all or part of the information at issue that is not otherwise confidential by law. See Gov't Code § 552.007.
We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.
Yours very truly,
Ref.: ID# 120937
Enclosures: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Huiling Sun
1. As you have noted, basic information normally found on the front page of an offense report, including a detailed description of the offense, is generally considered public. See Gov't Code § 552.108(c); Houston Chronicle Publ'g 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); Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976).
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