Friday, September 16, 2005

TCLEOSE F5's

Someone, please explain to me why this is proper:

Texas Administrative Code, Title 37, Part 7, Chapter 217, Rule 217.7:

(h) A report or statement submitted under this section is exempt from disclosure under the Public Information Act, Chapter 552, Government Code, unless the individual resigned or was terminated due to substantiated incidents of excessive force or violations of the law other than traffic offenses, and is subject to subpoena only in a judicial proceeding.

This section of the Texas Administrative Code, dealing with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, relates to the document commonly known as the "F-5," which is the form agencies file with TCLEOSE when a peace officer quits or is terminated.

Why should this not be a public record? If you get an individual's personnel file from an agency he or she worked for, you'll most likely see why he or she was terminated or resigned. Furthermore, in my experience, most departments send F5's when you ask for the entire personnel file regardless of the TECLOSE rule to the contrary.

Further, why does it seem this provision is subject to wide interpretation? TECLOSE itself says they won't release F5's unless excessive force was involved. However, I read the rule above as stating that the F5 is releasable if excessive force or another violation of the law is involved.

I think this is ripe for legislative change, myself. I don't believe, when it comes to law enforcement officers, that the reasons for their termination should be kept from the public by the state.

Anyone have any experience in this regard? Comment below, please!