Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3376
By: Talton
Urban Affairs


Current law does not protect fire and police department records from a
court action that requests access to personnel or investigatory files. H.B.
3376 requires a party to petition a court with specific requests for
departmental file reviews.  This bill also requires a judge to determine
the relevance of the request, what information may be reviewed, and how
that information may be used.  H.B. 3376 requires a city to expunge
documents from departmental investigatory files relating to entirely
overturned disciplinary actions. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


SECTION 1.  Amends Section 143.1214, Local Government Code, as follows:

DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS.  (a)  Requires the Human Resources Director, rather
than the department head, to order the expunction of records of a
disciplinary action from a police officer's or fire fighter's file if the
action was overturned in its entirety.  Deletes the prohibition of
releasing the information to any agency or person from this subsection and
redesignates it to Subsection (c).  Requires that nothing contained herein
under any circumstances may require Internal Affairs Division records to be
expunged.  Makes a conforming change. 

(b)  Provides that the investigatory file be maintained whether the charge
of misconduct was sustained or not.  Authorizes a police or fire department
(department) to release information from investigatory files under this
section in the manner provided by Subsections (c) and (d). Authorizes the
department to release information from the investigatory files only as set
out in Subsections (c) and (d) except that the department may release the
information to other law enforcement or fire departments and to the
District or U.S. Attorney's office. 

(c)  Requires the department head to forward only documents setting out
discipline actually received to the personnel file maintained by the
director.  Makes a conforming change. 

(d)  Prohibits a file, or any part thereof maintained pursuant to Section
143.089(g) (relating to the fire or police department's right to maintain a
personnel file on a fire fighter or police officer), in cause of civil or
criminal action, from being released until relevancy is judicially
determined and the application for a protective order limiting the use of
such file in that cause of action has been filed.  Requires the director,
prior to the release of a department file, to ascertain that an application
for a protective order limiting the use of the record to the immediate
litigation has been filed.  Requires that this subsection be implemented
each time such a file is sought in an action. 

 (1)  Requires the City of Houston legal department, or its designee, to be
responsible for all legal representation related to the preparation,
filing, and prosecution of any order required to carry out the purpose of
this section. 

(2)  Provides that nothing herein prevents the release of files to
appropriate entities as provided by Subsection (b). 

(e)  Requires that nothing in this section, with the exception of Internal
Affairs Division files, be construed to prevent an officer from having
access to the officer's personnel file maintained by the department. 

(f)  Requires a supervisory intervention (SI) or policy/procedural inquiry
(PPI) to be nonpunitive.  Prohibits an SI or PPI from being considered as
any form or manner of discipline.  Provides that this section intends to
correct or modify each action or behavior through positive encouragement,
counseling, training, or reeducation.  Provides that this section does not
intend to punish or harm a police officer.  Prohibits an SI or PPI from
being the subject of a grievance or appeal.  Requires documentation of an
SI or PPI, except for departmental computer tracking information, to be
retained exclusively at the divisional level in the employee's divisional
file.  Requires that documentation to be used for evaluating the police
officer's performance during that evaluation period.  Prohibits the
documentation relating to an SI or PPI from being placed in the
departmental file or the police officer's official file at the Human
Resources Department. 

SECTION 2.  Effective date: September 1, 1999.

SECTION 3.  Emergency clause.