Open Records Request
Read through the following policies regarding requesting open records:
- All open records requests are released on a case-by-case basis, according to the Public Information Act. Each open records request is processed in order of receipt.
- All information considered to be public, including basic information, will be released within 10 days from the date of receipt of the request.
- By law, the Sheriff’s Office has 10 days to respond or release the information which is sought.
- Within that 10-day period, we will contact you when and if your records are ready for release and inform you of all costs associated with your open records request.
- Any information to be withheld will be forwarded to the Texas Office of the Attorney General for a ruling. The Attorney General’s Office has up to a 90-day response time, which can be extended for larger or voluminous requests. When a final ruling notice has been received by the Sheriff’s Office, we have 15 days to release the information ordered by the Attorney General. When a final ruling is made, you will be contacted and provided with a ruling letter.
- You will be informed of all correspondence between the Sheriff’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office pertaining to your open records request.
- The Sheriff’s Office does not decipher which information is to be released or withheld.
- The Attorney General’s Office makes the ruling which is final. All rulings are based upon Texas Law set forth by Texas Legislature.
The following was taken from the Texas Attorney General Public Information Handbook (used with permission):
The Texas Public Information Act (the “Public Information Act” or the “Act”) gives the public the right to request access to government information. Below is a description of the basic procedures, rights and responsibilities under the Act.
Making a Request
The Act is triggered when a person submits a written request for records or information already in existence. The Act does not require a governmental body to create new information, to do legal research, or to answer questions. In preparing a request, a person may want to ask the governmental body what information is available.
Exceptions to the Act
Although the Act makes most government information available to the public, some exceptions exist. If an exception might apply and the governmental body wishes to withhold the information, the governmental body generally must, within 10 business days of receiving the open records request, refer the matter to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for a ruling on whether an exception applies. If the OAG rules that an exception applies, the governmental body will not release the information. If a governmental body improperly fails to release the information, the Act authorizes the requestor or the OAG to file a civil lawsuit to compel the governmental body to release the information.
The Act does not apply to the federal government or to any of its departments or agencies. If you are seeking information from the federal government, the appropriate law is the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). That law’s rules and procedures are different from the Public Information Act.
Rights of the Requestor
All people who request public information have the right to:
- Be copied on the governmental body’s written comments to the OAG stating the reason why the stated exceptions apply
- Be notified when the governmental body asks the OAG for a ruling on whether the information may or must be withheld
- Choose whether to inspect the requested information, receive a copy of the information, or both
- Lodge a complaint with the OAG cost rules administrator regarding any improper charges for responding to a public information request
- Lodge a complaint with the OAG Hotline or the county attorney or criminal district attorney, as appropriate, regarding any alleged violation of the Act
- Receive a statement of estimated charges in advance
- Receive treatment equal to all other requestor
Responsibilities of Requestors
All people who request public information have the responsibility to:
- Cooperate with the governmental body’s reasonable requests to clarify the type or amount of information requested
- Include enough description and detail of the requested information so that the governmental body can accurately identify and locate the requested items
- Keep all appointments for inspection of records or for pick-up of copies
- Make a timely payment for all valid charges
- Respond promptly in writing to all written communications from the governmental body (including any written estimate of charges)
- Submit a written request according to a governmental body’s reasonable procedures
Rights of Governmental Bodies
All governmental bodies responding to requests have the right to:
- Establish reasonable procedures for inspecting or copying information
- Obtain payment of overdue balances exceeding $100.00 or obtain a security deposit before processing additional requests from the same requestor
- Receive timely payment for all copy charges or other charges
- Request a bond, prepayment, or deposit if estimated costs exceed $100 (or, if the governmental body has fewer than 16 employees, $50)
- Request an OAG ruling regarding whether any information may or must be withheld
- Request and receive clarification of vague or overly broad requests
Responsibilities of Governmental Bodies
All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the responsibility to:
- Be informed of open records laws and educate employees on the requirements of those laws
- Comply with any OAG ruling on whether an exception applies, or files suit against the OAG within 30 days
- Confirm that the requestor agrees to pay the costs before incurring the costs
- Cooperate with the requestor to schedule reasonable times for inspecting or copying information
- Copy the requestor on written comments submitted to the OAG stating the reason why the stated exceptions apply
- Follow attorney general regulations on charges; not overcharge on any items; not bill for items that must be provided without charge
- Go through open records training as required by law
- Inform the requestor if the information will be provided within 10 business days and give an estimated date on which it will be provided
- Inform the requestor of cost estimates and any charges in the estimates
- Inform the requestor when the OAG has been asked to rule on whether information may or must be withheld
- Inform third parties if their proprietary information is being requested from the governmental body
- Provide requested information promptly
- Respond in writing to all written communications from the OAG regarding complaints about violations of the Act
- Treat all requestors equally
For additional information, refer to the Public Information Handbook.
You may place an open records request to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office by contacting the Public Information Officer, Deputy Danie Huffman.
The Sheriff’s Office does not accept ORR over the phone. All requests must be in writing.