Austin Energy Warrantless Surveillance
To recap- Austin Police and Austin Energy have an agreement that allows for warrantless surveillance of consumer electricity bills. Austin PD uses this information to search for marijuana growing operations sans warrant.
I filed an open records request with Austin PD and asked for internal policies, inter alia. I received this information, however other records were not disclosed. Austin PD sought an.. wait for it… Attorney General Opinion to avoid disclosure. ACLU Texas also filed a request for the same information.
Today I received the AG opinion. The Attorney General rightfully denied Austin PD’s attempts to keep this information from the public. Austin PD argued that if the public knew more about the warrantless surveillance program it would endanger “officer safety.” However, Austin PD failed to demonstrate how releasing information would endanger officers.
Your Tax Dollars At Work
Cities pay a lot for law firms to handle open records requests. In my expereience the firms just throw out unsubstantiated boiler plate arguments. Simply handing over the information would save cities thousands in billable hours.