Monday, March 29, 2010

Texas police ask AG to block release of information

"Open records advocates questioned decisions by Galveston and Friendswood police departments, which seek to keep birth dates and complainant information private.

Citing increasing identity theft cases, Galveston police asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to restrict from view dates of births, which normally appear on police reports available to the public.

Friendswood police have asked Abbott to keep private the name and other information about a person who reported a case of online harassment.

When The Daily News requested the information, neither department said it would seek an attorney general’s opinion until asked to do so. A governmental body that receives a written request for information that it wishes to withhold from public disclosure must ask for a decision by the attorney general, according to the 2010 Public Information Handbook.

In a response to redacting dates of birth, Galveston police Capt. Thom Karlok told The Daily News in an e-mail that age, rather than birth dates, is a required disclosure. “I made the decision to omit that piece of information as a guard against identity theft,” Karlok stated.

No Evidence Linking ID Theft

The department has no evidence linking the release of birth dates on police reports to any case of identity theft, Karlok said."  
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