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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Council Wrapup: Fort Worth sues Texas AG over police department data


The city council approved the filing of a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pertaining to the maintaining of some private information within the Fort Worth Police Department.

In April city officials received a request under the Texas Public Information Act for specific categories of information relating to use-of-force cases, including complainant’s name and complaint status and outcome. Records of investigations that resulted in discipline were released, as required by state law. However, the city sought a ruling from the attorney general about release of other information, which is contained in the police department’s personnel files and relates to investigations that did not result in discipline.

“Courts and the attorney general have repeatedly held that information to be confidential and not subject to release as prescribed by state law,” said Sarah Fullenwider, the City of Fort Worth’s attorney. “Such records are kept in what’s known as a ‘G file,’ or departmental personnel file, which the Texas Local Government Code says cannot be released.”

Paxton, however, ruled that the information is not protected because it is maintained independently of the department’s internal personnel files and therefore, the city must release information.

The city attorney’s office filed suit on Aug. 3. However, due to the city council’s meeting calendar for August, it was not possible to seek city council action on the matter before that date.

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