Section 2 Legal Services
Policy 2-5 RELEASE OF INFORMATION POLICY
DATE: March 12, 1996
Members of the City Council
SUBJECT: Uniform policy prescribing guidelines and procedures for
the release of
information on incidents or matters that have or may result in claims or litigation against the
City, its officials or employees.
PURPOSE: To establish the orderly and knowledgeable release of information in connection
with pending or potential claims or litigation involving or which may involve the City, its
officials or employees.
BACKGROUND: From time to time the City, City officials, or a City employee
may be involved in an incident or matter that has or may result in a claim or litigation against the
City, its officials and/or its employees. Quite a few of these incidents involve more employees
and departments than are known about by other employees within the City.
Very often, private investigators, attorneys, reporters or interested third parties will approach the
unsuspecting employee to gather information. If these people are real good at their job, they
get information about you, a co-worker or the City, without you even knowing you gave it. This
policy is intended to furnish guidelines to City officials and City employees on how to respond to
requests for information from such persons outside the City government without going through
official channels. The policy is not intended to curb or inhibit one's constitutional right to
freedom of speech or expression or interfere with the attorney-client relationship between an
official or employee and his or her private attorney.
RESPONSIBILITIES: Except as otherwise provided herein, a concerning
incidents or matters
that have or may result in claims or litigation against the City and/or its officials or employees
must be referred to the City Attorney or his designee prior to release of any information.
1. An employee may discuss ongoing or anticipated claims or lawsuits which involve
or any City official or employee with a private attorney, private investigator or other persons
outside the City government only in the presence of the City Attorney or his designee. If
represented by an attorney in the litigation, the employee may discuss the suit with the attorney
outside the presence of the City Attorney.
2. If necessarily incident to the performance of his or her duties, an
employee may discuss any
factual matters arising within the employee's official duties, with any non-City personnel, or
public, but may not give personal opinions on the factual matters. For example, Field Utilities
crew members may inform the homeowner that the sewer back-up was caused by a blockage in
the sewer main, but may not give an opinion that a claim, if filed, will be approved or
disapproved; a police officer investigating a vehicular accident scene at a four-way intersection
may make a statement that there are no traffic control signs/devices at the intersection, but may
not make a statement that there should have been signs or devices at the intersection since the
placement of traffic control signs/devices is within the discretion of the City Council; a police
officer may discuss an investigation of a vehicular accident, whether apparently involving the
City or not after leaving the scene and filing his report if the discussion or information released
based on facts and not opinion relating to the vehicular accident. A member of the fire
department may not give opinion as to the origin of a fire if the origin is of a suspicious nature or
is under investigation. However, the official report of an incident, if releasable under the Open
Records Act, may be released to the requesting party. When appropriate, the City Attorney or his
designee may require that the employee be subpoenaed prior to the employee discussing with any
outside parties matters or issues which are in litigation to economize times and insure fairness to
3. With regard to claims or litigation involving only outside parties with no
possibility of City
involvement, the City official or employee is encouraged to seek guidance from the City
Attorney or his designee before giving any information, statement or testimony. This procedure
is designed to provide guidance to the official or employee so as not to express an opinion which
would eventually result in a claim or suit being filed against the City. When appropriate, the
City Attorney or his designee may require that the employee be subpoenaed to economize time
and insure fairness to all parties.
4. In the event that an employee is faced with a situation to which the foregoing
not specifically cover, the employee must exercise good judgment, and should defer providing
the requested information until the employee receives appropriate guidance from his or her
supervisor or the City Attorney.
RECISION: This policy rescinds and supersedes Council Policy No. 36 dated
1994. This policy shall be in effect until rescinded.
JOHN T. MARLEY