FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Robert Dandeneau,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-5

 

Department of Police Service of the City of Waterbury,

 

Respondent August 27, 1986

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 15, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire matter, the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. In November, 1985, the complainant, a police officer in the respondent department, submitted for reimbursement receipts totaling $16.94 for three meals at the White Colony Diner. The complainant subsequently became aware that the acting superintendent of the respondent had taken action to verify that the complainant had eaten there.

 

3. By letter dated December 30, 1985 the complainant made a request of the acting superintendent of the respondent for the opportunity to inspect and copy "all materials involved in any investigations conducted by the Waterbury Police Department" involving him.

 

4. By letter dated December 31, 1985 the respondent replied that the information requested was not available "as dictated by Section 1-49 (B) 3 [sic] of The Freedom of Information Act regarding internal investigations."

 

5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on January 8, 1986 the complainant appealed the denial of his request.

 

Docket #FIC 86-5 Page Two

 

6. At hearing the respondent moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Commission failed to comply with the time limits of 1-21i(b), G.S. This case, however, has been validated pursuant to P.A. 86-408 so that the failure of the Commission to comply with the time limits set forth at 1-21i(b), G.S. does not deprive the Commission of jurisdiction. The respondent's motion, therefore, is denied.

 

7. It is found that the investigation conducted by the respondent department consisted of sending two detectives to the White Colony Diner to determine whether the bills submitted by the complainant were generated by that establishment. The two detectives also interviewed an employee of the diner, at her home, and verified that the bills submitted by the complainant were legitimate. The two detectives made an oral report of their findings to the acting superintendent.

 

8. The respondent claims that no records of the "diner" investigation were created by either the acting superintendent or the two detectives. The respondent department conducted a computer search for records under the names of the complainant and of the two detectives and was unable to locate any records of an investigation.

 

9. It is concluded that no records of the investigation of the complainant's claim for reimbursement exist and that the complainant was not denied access to public records within the meaning of 1-21i(a), G.S.

 

10. It is noted, however, that the acting superintendent's December 31, 1985 response was inaccurate and misleading and that the complainant's appeal to this Commission might have been avoided had the acting superintendent responded in a meaningful way to the complainant's inquiry. The Commission also notes that incurring the inconvenience and expense of requiring the presence of the acting superintendent, two detectives and their counsel at a hearing before this Commission is a profligate waste of resources in an agency which, apparently, assiduously monitors its other expenses.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 27, 1986.

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission