In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Louis D'Onofrio,




against Docket #FIC 86-48


Board of Police Commissioners, City of West Haven, and Chairman Clifford Bradley, Board of Police Commissioners, City of West Haven,


Respondents April 9, 1986


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 11, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


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


1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. On or about November 20, 1985 the assistant chief of police of the City of West Haven incurred an injury which placed him on sick leave for several weeks. In connection with the assistant chief's leave, the chief of police asked the deputy corporation counsel for his opinion regarding the use of city- owned vehicles by persons on sick leave.


3. In a January 28, 1986 memorandum to Chief Michael D'Errico, deputy corporation counsel Mark J. DeGennaro stated that there was at the time no police department policy regarding the use of city owned vehicles by the police administration while on sick leave, and suggested that such a policy be implemented.


4.     The respondent board held a regular meeting on February 4, 1986 during which it reviewed Attorney DeGennaro's memorandum to Chief D'Errico. Following the review of the memorandum in public session, the respondent board announced that it would discuss a policy regarding city-owned vehicles in executive session. Later in the meeting the respondent board voted to convene in executive session "to discuss personnel matters and new police applicant."


Docket #FIC 86-48 Page Two


5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on February 24, 1986 the complainant alleged that the respondent board's discussion, in executive session, of a policy regarding use of vehicles was improper and that the respondent board failed to specify what "personnel matters" would be discussed in executive session.


6. In his letter the complainant requested that all matters discussed at the respondent board's February 4, 1986 meeting be declared null and void and that a fine be levied against the respondent chairman.


7. The respondents claim that the discussion of the use of city owned vehicles was appropriate pursuant to 1-18a(e)(3), G.S.


8. It is found that discussion of formulating a policy regarding the use of city owned vehicles by persons who are not on duty due to sick leave does not concern security strategy or the deployment of security personnel or devices affecting public security within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(3), G.S.


9. It is concluded that the respondent board violated 1-21(a), G.S. when it convened in executive session on February 4, 1986 to discuss vehicle use as described above.


10. It is also found that the respondent board failed to properly identify the purpose of the executive session when it stated that the session was being convened for "personnel matters," in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.


11. At hearing the complainant limited his request for remedy to the issuance of an order declaring the respondent board's actions at the February 4, 1986 meeting null and void.


12. It is found, however, that the respondent board took no action with respect to the subject of the improper executive session. The relief requested by the complainant, therefore, is not deemed appropriate.


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


1. The respondent board shall henceforth convene in executive session only for one or more of the proper purposes listed at 1-18a(e), G.S. and shall properly identify the purpose of the executive session before so convening.


Docket #FIC86-48 page 3


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of April 9, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission