|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
October 8, 1999
Mr. Steven J. Duskie
Dear Mr. Duskie:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 129036.
The Corpus Christi Police Department (the "department") received a request for all internal affairs reports concerning the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a certain individual. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 143.089 of the Local Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information deemed confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Accordingly, this section encompasses information protected by other statutes such as section 143.089 of the Local Government Code. Section 143.089 contemplates two different types of personnel files: one that the city's police department is required to maintain as part of the police officer's civil service file, and one that the city's police department may maintain for its own internal use. Local Gov't Code § 143.089(a), (g).
Section 143.089(g) reads as follows:
A fire or police department may maintain a personnel file on a fire fighter or police officer employed by the department for the department's use, but the department may not release any information contained in the department file to any agency or person requesting information relating to a fire fighter or police officer. The department shall refer to the director [of the civil-service commission] or the director's designee a person or agency that requests information that is maintained in the fire fighter's or police officer's personnel file.
Subsection (g) authorizes city police and fire departments to maintain for their own use a file on a police officer or fire fighter that is separate from the file maintained by the city civil service commission. "The department may not release any information contained in the department file to any agency or person," but instead "the department shall refer to the director [of the civil-service commission] or the director's designee a person or agency that requests information that is maintained in the fire fighter's or police officer's personnel file." Local Gov't Code § 143.089(g); see City of San Antonio v. Texas Attorney Gen., 851 S.W.2d 946, 952 (Tex. App.--Austin, 1993, writ denied).
The court in City of San Antonio addressed the availability of information that is contained in the department's internal file pursuant to section 143.089(g). The court determined that section 143.089(g) makes confidential any records kept in a department's internal file. City of San Antonio v. Texas Attorney Gen., 851 S.W.2d 946 (Tex. App.--Austin 1993, writ denied) (finding that allegations of misconduct against police officers and fire fighters are not subject to compelled disclosure unless they have been substantiated and resulted in disciplinary action).
You inform this office that the City of Corpus Christi has adopted chapter 143 of the Local Government Code, and that the requested information is maintained in the section 143.089(g) internal personnel file. Consequently, the submitted records are confidential and may not be disclosed.(1)
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.
E. Joanna Fitzgerald
Ref: ID# 129036
Encl: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Don K. Clark
1. Moreover, absent federal law requiring disclosure of the records maintained within the internal, section 143.089(g) file, the information may not be disclosed to a federal law enforcement agency as a permissible interagency transfer. Open Records Decision No. 650 at 4 (1996).
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