|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
May 2, 2000
Mr. Nick Todaro
Dear Mr. Todaro:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 134722.
The City of Midland Police Department (the "department") received a request for a specified police report. You have provided for our review information that is responsive to the request, consisting of an incident report. You assert that some of the requested information, which you have marked, is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.108, and 552.130 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
In relevant part, section 552.108 states:
(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;
* * *
(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 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. Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977). We note the submitted information does not explain on its face how and why its release would interfere with law enforcement. You aver the disclosure of the information you have marked would divulge investigative techniques which, if known by criminals, would facilitate criminal activity. We have carefully examined the information at issue and find, at most, that the information, if released, may reveal commonly known investigative techniques. This office has stated that where the investigative techniques are commonly known, the statutory predecessor to section 552.108 did not operate to except the information from required public disclosure. Open Records Decision No. 252 at 3 (1980). Thus, we conclude the information you have marked is not excepted from disclosure under section 552.108.
The submitted documents contain the social security number of the requestor, which you have marked for redaction. You assert that this information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. A social security number or "related record" may be excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 in conjunction with the 1990 amendments to the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(I). See Open Records Decision No. 622 (1994). These amendments make confidential social security numbers and related records that are obtained and maintained by a state agency or political subdivision of the state pursuant to any provision of law enacted on or after October 1, 1990. See id. We have no basis for concluding that the social security numbers at issue here is confidential under section 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(I), and therefore excepted from public disclosure on the basis of that federal provision. As noted below, even if the federal provision applies, the social security number must be released to this requestor.
The submitted documents also contain the driver's license number of the requestor, which you have marked for redaction under section 552.130 of the Government Code. See Gov't Code § 552.130. While we agree that section 552.130 applies to this information, we also believe that section 552.130 is intended to protect the privacy of the subject of the information. With regard to both the social security number and the driver's license number, we note that section 552.023 of the Government Code provides a special right of access to the subject of the information for information that relates to a person and that is otherwise protected from public disclosure by laws intended to protect that person's privacy interests. See Gov't Code § 552.023. We thus conclude you must release both the social security number and driver's license number to this requestor. In summary, we conclude that you must release the information in its entirety.
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).
If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. 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.
Ref: ID# 134722
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Allen Wilson
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US