|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
February 1, 1999
Mr. Frank M. Crull
Dear Mr. Crull:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 121776.
The Department of Public Safety (the "department") received a request for videotapes of department employees and citizens involved in specific conduct. You claim that the officers' photographic images are protected from disclosure under section 552.119 of the Government Code.(1) We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted videotapes.(2)
Section 552.119(a) of the Government Code excepts from required public disclosure "a photograph that depicts a peace officer as defined by Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure," with certain exceptions that do not appear relevant here. A photograph that depicts a peace officer may be released only if the peace officer gives written consent to the disclosure. Gov't Code § 552.119(b). We note that in Open Records Decision 502 (1988), this office held that there need not be a threshold determination that release of a photograph would endanger an officer before the statutory predecessor to section 552.119(a) could be invoked. Consequently, unless the officers have given their written consent or are no longer living, the department must withhold their photographic images from public disclosure under section 552.119. Open Records Decision No. 536 (1989) (provision which protects police officer's photograph ceases to apply after death of officer).(3)
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 on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.
Yours very truly,
June B. Harden
Ref.: ID# 121776
Enclosures: Submitted videotapes`
cc: Mr. Brian Collister
1. We note that the department withdrew its section 552.103 claim. Accordingly, this ruling only addresses the department's arguments under section 552.119. See Gov't Code 552.301.
2. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach and, therefore, does not authorize the withholding of any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
3. You indicate that you will redact the officers' photographic images and release the
remaining images to the requestor.
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US