Opinion Letter No. 05-17
November 17, 2005
Request for Emergency 911 Tape
October 12, 2005, the Hawaii County Police Department (“HCPD”)
received an emergency 911 telephone call concerning an “accidental
stabbing.” Authorities responding to the 911 call discovered
the body of a 4-month old infant who had suffered a fatal stab
wound. The infant’s 16-year old mother was arrested
and charged in Family Court with second degree murder in connection
with the stabbing death of her son. HCPD denied a
request for acccess to the 911 tape, and the requester appealed
HCPD’s denial to OIP.
UIPA generally provides that a government record must be made
accessible to a requester unless an exception to that general
requirement exists. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-11 (1993). The
exception relied upon by HCPD, section 92F-13(4), HRS, provides
that an agency may withhold “[g]overnment records which,
pursuant to State or federal law including an order of any State
or federal court, are protected from disclosure[.]”
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13(4) (1993). Under state law, police department
records relating to proceedings filed in the Family Court are
confidential unless otherwise ordered by the court. Haw.
Rev. Stat. § 571-84(e) (Supp. 2004).
OIP ruled that,
because state law requires confidentiality of the requested 911 tape in
this instance, the UIPA allowed HCPD to deny access to the tape.