95-21Posted on Aug 28, 1995 in Formal Opinions
Opinion Letter No. 95-21
August 28, 1995
Disclosure of Closed Police Investigation Reports
[OIP Op. Ltr. No. 05-03 partially overrules this opinion to the extent that it states or implies that the UIPA’s privacy exception in section 92F-13(1), HRS, either prohibits public disclosure or mandates confidentiality.]
The Honolulu Police Department (“HPD”) conducted an investigation into the death of a person and concluded that the person committed suicide. The HPD eventually closed its investigation. Closed investigation records are government records which must be disclosed to the public if certain items of information can reasonably be segregated from the records. Whether segregation is possible must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Government agencies may segregate information the release of which would: 1) reveal identity of confidential informants, 2) impair right to fair trial, 3) disclose techniques or procedures of law enforcement investigations and prosecutions, or 4) endanger someone’s life. In this case, OIP concluded that because the subject of the investigative report was deceased, he no longer had a privacy interest to protect.
In addition, OIP concluded that it was proper to segregate only that information that would reveal the identity of confidential informants to protect their significant privacy interests. As no one was being prosecuted for a crime, disclosure would not impair any rights to a fair trial because the report revealed no confidential techniques of investigation and prosecution and there were no claims that disclosure would endanger someone’s life.