|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
July 26, 2000
Mr. B.J. "Beni" Hemmeline
Dear Mr. Hemmeline:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 137529.
The Lubbock County Sheriff's Department (the "department") received a request for a copy of the department's policy regarding outside employment of officers and copies of a specified officer's requests and reports of outside employment. The requestor also asked for the officer's job description and salary information. In your letter to the requestor, you state that you are providing the requestor with the department's policy regarding outside employment as well as the officer's job description and salary information. You claim that the information pertaining to the officer's outside employment 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 provides in pertinent part as follows:
(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 law enforcement or prosecution[.]
Gov't Code § 552.108(b)(1). This office has stated that certain procedural information may be withheld under section 552.108 of the Government Code, or its statutory predecessors. See, e.g., Open Records Decision Nos. 531 (1989) (detailed use of force guidelines), 456 (1987) (forms indicating location of off-duty police officers), 413 (1984) (security measures to be used at next execution), 143 (1976) (specific operations or specialized equipment directly related to investigation or detection of crime). To claim this aspect of section 552.108 protection, however, a governmental body must meet its burden of explaining, if the requested information does not supply the explanation on its face, how and why release of the requested information would interfere with law enforcement and crime prevention. Open Records Decision No. 562 at 10 (1990).
You assert that release of information pertaining to an officer's outside employment could interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime and could place the safety of the officers at risk. You also point out that the requested information is similar to the information withheld in Open Records Decision No. 456.(1) In ORD 456, we concluded that section 552.108 excepted information maintained by the personnel division of a police department that indicated the businesses that employed off-duty officers. Likewise, we conclude that the department may withhold the submitted information pertaining to the officer's outside employment under section 552.108.
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# 137529
Encl: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Bill Helwig
1. We note that you argue that Open Records Decision No. 465 applies in this instance. However, we believe that you are referring to Open Records Decision No. 456 and will address this decision.
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US