August 4, 1997

In re: Rebecca Shryock/Kentucky State Police

Open Records Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Rebecca Shryock in connection with her attempts to secure copies of documents from the Kentucky State Police.

In a letter to Diane Smith, Custodian of Records, Kentucky State Police, dated June 19, 1997, Ms. Shryock requested "a copy of the complaint and findings of the investigation Detective Simpson conducted which involved me." Ms. Shryock said that it was her understanding that an earlier request by her for the documents in question had been delayed because of an investigation being conducted involving her and food stamps reported missing from the food stamp vault.

Ms. Smith advised Ms. Shryock, in a letter dated June 26, 1997, as follows:

The Kentucky Open Records Law provides that all public documents are available for inspection unless exempt pursuant to a particular provision. KRS 61.878(1)(l) exempts records made confidential by separate statute. The records you seek were made for and provided to the Cabinet for Human Resources and are exempt from the Open Records Law pursuant to KRS 205.175. Therefore, your request for the report is denied.

Ms. Shryock's letter of appeal was received by this office on July 7, 1997.

Ms. Smith responded to the letter of appeal in a letter dated July 11, 1997, and advised that the records sought are reports made at the request of the Cabinet for Human Resources relative to food stamp fraud and the Cabinet's required administration of the food stamp program. She said KRS 205.175 provides that such materials are confidential and Ms. Shryock is not one of the persons mentioned in KRS 205.175(2) pertaining to the exceptions to confidentiality.

KRS 205.175(1), a part of KRS Chapter 205 pertaining to "Public Assistance and Medical Assistance," states in part as follows:

All letters, reports, communications, and other matters, written or oral, to the cabinet or any of its agents, representatives, or employees, or to any board or official functioning under this chapter which have been written, sent or made in connection with the requirements and administration of the cabinet shall be absolutely privileged and shall not be the subject matter or basis for any suit for slander or libel in any court[.]

It is our understanding that the Cabinet requested the State Police to investigate the matter involving Rebecca Shryock and the food stamps reported missing from the food stamp vault. The matter was investigated by the State Police and the results and findings of the investigation were delivered to the Cabinet. Apparently nothing further has transpired, at least as far as Rebecca Shryock is concerned.

KRS 205.175(2) sets forth the exceptions to the confidentiality provisions. None of the five categories of exceptions apply to Ms. Shryock although, had there been a hearing before the secretary or his duly authorized representative, she may have been able to obtain some information by invoking the exception set forth in KRS 205.175(2)(d).

In OAG 91-173, copy enclosed, this office dealt with an investigation by the State Police and a confidentiality provision in a statute applicable to the Cabinet for Human Resources relative to such investigations. At page eleven of that opinion this office said in part:

Rather, it is the opinion of this office that under the specific facts presented in this appeal, the Kentucky State Police and the Cabinet for Human Resources conducted a joint investigation and obtained its information jointly and therefore KRS 620.050(4) is applicable. . . . This opinion merely confirms the statutory language of KRS 620.050(4) which specifies that information, which obviously includes information contained in records, shall not be divulged by anyone if obtained by the Cabinet for Human Resources, even if the information was obtained through a joint investigation with the Kentucky State Police.

KRS 61.878(1)(l) provides that among the public records which are excluded from public inspection in the absence of a court order are, "Public records or information the disclosure of which is prohibited or restricted or otherwise made confidential by enactment of the General Assembly."

It may be that there are also provisions of the federal law necessitating confidentiality in this matter but the Kentucky State Police has not cited such provisions.

It is, therefore, the decision of the Attorney General that the Kentucky State Police has not violated the Open Records Act by withholding documents relative to an investigation conducted by the State Police at the request of the Cabinet for Families and Children relative to food stamps reported missing from the food stamp vault. Such withholding of documents is supported by KRS 61.878(1)(l) and KRS 205.175(1).

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 KRS 61.880(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.



Thomas R. Emerson

Assistant Attorney General

# 748

Copies of this decision

have been distributed to:

Rebecca Shryock

2133 Bryant Benson Road

Frankfort KY 40601-7707

Diane H. Smith

Official Custodian of Records

Kentucky State Police

919 Versailles Road

Frankfort KY 40601