FOIL AO 19640

From: Freeman, Robert J (DOS)
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2018 10:08 AM
Cc:  ''; ''
Subject:   RE: Appeal of August 3, 2017 FOIL Response

Dear Mr.

I have received your inquiry in which you asked whether “there is a legal requirement prohibiting John F. Marren, Ontario County Board of Supervisors from providing verbal characterization of the 911 call related to [your] son’s death that [you] have requested.”

As you are aware, §308(4) of the County Law states in part that “Records, in whatever form they may be kept, of calls made to a municipality’s E911 system shall not be available to or obtained by any entity or person….” The first exception to rights of access in the Freedom of Information Law, §87(2)(a), pertains to records that “are specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute…” One such statute is §308(4), and that being so, the Freedom of Information Law does not require disclosure of the records referenced in that statute.

It is emphasized, however, that §308(4) refers to “records”, those that appear in written form or recordings of calls made to a municipalities E911 system. From my perspective, the requirement concerning nondisclosure relates solely to records and does not prohibit verbal disclosure of information that might relate to an event reported via the use of an E911 system. Disclosures made verbally or in records developed following the receipt of a 911 call are common, and the examples are numerous. They may range from the verbal account of a baby being delivered in a vehicle on its way to a hospital, the description of a motor vehicle accident, or information, disclosed verbally or via records prepared as a result of a crime, initially reported via a 911 call.

In short, I do not believe that Chairman Marren or other County officials are prohibited from providing either a verbal characterization of the 911 call to which you referred, or disclosing records relating to the incident that precipitated the 911 call.

I hope that I have been of ssistance.

 Bob Freeman