|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
July 20, 1999
Mr. Don Hatcher
Dear Mr. Hatcher:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 127705.
The Leander Police Department, City of Leander (the "department") received a request for records about a criminal incident. You claim that the requested information in "Attachment C" is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code provides:
(a) Information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:
(1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime[.]
Gov't Code § 552.108. 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 explain that the requested information, if released, could "hinder this pending investigation or future investigations." (Emphasis deleted.) One of the exhibits indicates that the case is still active.
We find that you have shown that the 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); Open Records Decision No. 216 (1978). We therefore conclude that section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code excepts the requested records from required public disclosure, although you may choose to release all or part of the information at issue that is not otherwise confidential by law. Gov't Code § 552.007.
We note, however, that information normally found on the front page of an offense report is generally considered public. 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). Thus, you must release the type of information that is considered to be front page offense report information, even if this information is not actually located on the front page of the offense report. Gov't Code § 552.108(c); see Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976) (summarizing the types of information deemed public by Houston Chronicle). You indicate that the department has already released the "front page" offense report information.
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.
Sue M. Lee
Ref: ID# 127705
encl: Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Brandy Burich
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US