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Jeffrey S. Bruni, squire

Office of the Attorney GeneralOctober 5, 2009

2009 WL 3853233 (Miss.A.G.)
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
*1 Opinion No. 2009-00534
*1 October 5, 2009

Re: Information Contained in Incident Report

 
*1 Jeffrey S. Bruni, squire
*1 P. O. Box 1780
*1 Gulfport, MS 39502
Dear Mr. Bruni:
*1 Attorney General Jim Hood has received your request and has assigned it to me for research and reply. Your question centers around an interpretation of the language contained in Section 25-61-3(e) of the Mississippi Code which references “the name and identification of each person charged with and arrested for the alleged offense”.
*1 You ask:
 
QUESTION
 
*1 May a municipality/municipal police department redact an arrestee's home address and telephone number (or personal contact information) from an “Incident Report” prior to responding to a request for such a document under the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.
 
RESPONSE
 
*1 Section 25-61-3(e) contained in the Mississippi Public Records Act describes an incident report:
*1 (e) “Incident report” means a narrative description, if such narrative description exists and if such narrative description does not contain investigative information, of an alleged offense, and at a minimum shall include the name and identification of each person charged with and arrested for the alleged offense, the time, date and location of the alleged offense, and the property involved, to the extent this information is known.
*1 This provision does not require that the home address and telephone number be included in the report. It references “name and identification” of the person charged and arrested. It is the opinion of this office that the name and identification required may include the name and some descriptive characterization of the person such as “John Doe a white male 36 years of age”. Its purpose is to enable the public to ascertain to some degree who was charged and arrested. It is not required that the public be informed of contact information relative to the person. It would therefore be within the discretion of the municipality/police department to provide information amounting to name and identification.
*1 If the home address and telephone number are contained in the incident report when it is initially prepared you ask if that information can be redacted before it is released. If the name and address are deemed to be investigative information or is otherwise exempt under the Public Records Act it may be redacted. This would require a factual determination on a case by case basis based on the description of “investigative report” contained in Section 25-61-3 (f) and (f) (i) through (viii) :
*1 (f) “Investigative report” means records of a law enforcement agency containing information beyond the scope of the matters contained in an incident report, and generally will include, but not be limited to, the following matters if beyond the scope of the matters contained in an incident report:
*1 (i) Records that are compiled in the process of detecting and investigating any unlawful activity or alleged unlawful activity, the disclosure of which would harm the investigation which may include crime scene reports and demonstrative evidence;
*2 (ii) Records that would reveal the identity of informants and/or witnesses;
*2 (iii) Records that would prematurely release information that would impede the public body's enforcement, investigative or detection efforts;
*2 (iv) Records that would disclose investigatory techniques and/or results of investigative techniques;
*2 (v) Records that would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;
*2 (vi) Records that would endanger the life or safety of a public official or law enforcement personnel, or confidential informants or witnesses;
*2 (vii) Records pertaining to quality control or PEER review activities; or
*2 (viii) Records that would impede or jeopardize a prosecutor's ability to prosecute the alleged offense.
*2 In order to alleviate the issue of whether the home address and telephone number consist of investigative information you may consider not including the information in the incident report as initially prepared.
*2 Finally, you ask if “requests for opinions concerning the applicability of the Public Records Act [are] handled solely by [this] Office.” You may contact this office by telephone on a case by case basis as you deem necessary regarding this question.
Sincerely,
*2 Jim Hood
*2 Attorney General
*2 By: James Y. Dale
*2 Special Assistant Attorney General
2009 WL 3853233 (Miss.A.G.)
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