March 19, 1997

In re: Richard Powell/Jefferson County Police Department

Open Records Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the response of the Jefferson County Police Department to Mr. Richard P. Powell's open records request of February 10, 1997, in which he requested copies of the previous week's Traffic Accident Police Reports from Jefferson County. In his request, Mr. Powell explained:

I am requesting these reports not be blacked out with all information visible. If this cannot be done, please fax me a copy of the denial letter along with a copy of one Traffic Accident Report with the blacked out areas.

By letter dated February 11, 1997, Mr. Wm. Dennis Sims, Esq., Legal Affairs, Jefferson County Police Department, responded to Mr. Powell's request, stating in relevant part:

As I explained to you in my October 4, 1996 correspondence, which you appealed to the office of the Attorney General, the Jefferson County Police Department does not allow information of a personal nature contained in accident reports to be inspected by anyone other than the parties involved in the accident, or their appropriate representatives. Therefore, your request for last week's traffic accident reports with no redaction of information of a personal nature is denied. This denial is based upon KRS 61.878(1)(a). Further, pursuant to your request, I am providing you with a copy of an illustrative traffic accident report wherein information of a personal nature has been redacted.

We are asked to determine whether the response of the Department was consistent with the Open Records Act. For the reasons which follow, we conclude the Department's actions were consistent with the Act.

We believe that 97-ORD-21, and the authorities cited therein, address and are controlling as to the issues raised in this appeal. A copy of that decision is attached hereto and incorporated by reference. In 97-ORD-21, we explained this office's prior decisions regarding accident reports and the redaction of information of a personal nature as follows:

In summary, this office has long recognized that “uniform police traffic accident reports prepared by law enforcement officers pursuant to KRS 189.635 are not confidential, and are open records under the open records law. We also have recognized that accident reports may contain information of a personal or confidential nature which may be exempt from disclosure under KRS 61.878(1)(a), such as social security numbers, and the public agency may blot out or expunge the information which is confidential and make the non-excepted material available for inspection. OAG 89-76.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Jefferson County Police Department's denial of Mr. Powell's request for unredacted copies of the traffic accident reports was consistent with the Open Records Act. 97-ORD-21; OAG 91-50. Moreover, as to the other portion of Mr. Powell's request, he was provided with a copy of one Traffic Accident Report with information of a personal nature redacted.

A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. Pursuant to KRS61.880(3), the Attorney General should be notified of any action in circuit court, but should not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceeding.

A. B. Chandler III

Attorney General

James M. Ringo

Assistant Attorney General



Distributed to:

Richard P. Powell

The Daily Legal

8866 Oak Circle

Tampa FL 33615

Wm. Dennis Sims

Legal Affairs

Jefferson County Police Department

768 Barret Avenue

Louisville KY 40204