Posted on May 8, 1995 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 95-13
May 8, 1995
Police Department’s Internal Policies and Procedures May Be Confidential

Requester sought access to the Hawaii County Police department’s internal policies and procedures which had not been promulgated under Chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes. The UIPA’s section 92F-13(3), Hawaii Revised Statutes, does not require disclosure of records which, if disclosed, would frustrate a legitimate government function.

The OIP adopted a two-part test from the federal case law which exempts a record from public disclosure if the document is (1) “predominately internal”; and (2) its disclosure “significantly risks circumvention of agency regulations or statutes.” Based on this two-part test, the OIP concluded that disclosure of certain policies and procedures would significantly risk the circumvention of law and undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement techniques. Therefore, this information should be withheld.

Specifically, the OIP opined that the General Order regarding the transportation of prisoners did not have to be disclosed to the public and that the agency could withhold portions of the General Orders regarding the use of pepper spray and procedures for vehicle pursuits to avoid the circumvention of the agency’s law enforcement functions.

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