In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Francis J. Valutti,




against Docket #FIC 86-149


Personnel Director and Chief of Police of the City of Bristol,


Respondents September 24, 1986


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 2, 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. By letter dated April 28, 1986 the complainant made requests of the respondents for certain information regarding Detectives Ronald McGivney, Peter Barton and Melvyn Dekow. Specifically, the complainant requested the medical information on the detectives' applications for employment and the sections of the detectives' pre-employment applications indicating prior arrests or criminal prosecutions.


3. By letter dated May 1, 1986 the respondent chief denied the complainant's request.


4. By letter dated May 7, 1986 the respondent personnel director denied the complainant's request.


5. The respondents claim that medical information and information relating to the officers' criminal and arrest records is contained in such officers' personnel or medical files, that disclosure of such information would constitute an invasion of personal privacy and that such information is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.


6. The respondents further claim that the complainant intends to use the requested information in an "ongoing vendetta" against the Bristol Police Department and that such intended use is relevant to a determination of disclosability.


Docket #FIC 86-149 Page Two


7. The respondents failed to prove that the complainant's alleged motivation constitutes a valid claim of exemption under the Freedom of Information Act.


8. The respondents further claim that the complainant's complaint was defective because his letter of request was not directed to any particular person and that the complaint should, therefore, be dismissed.


9. It is found that the complainant sent copies of his request, which began with the salutation "Dear Sir," to each of the respondents, as noted under the signature on the letter. Each of the respondents received the letter, understood it as a request, and responded accordingly. The respondents' claim with respect to the form of the request is, therefore, unpersuasive.


10. It is found that there is a legitimate public interest in the criminal records, if any, of police officers and that disclosure of information regarding a police officer's criminal record would not constitute an invasion of personal privacy within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.


11. It is further found that 1-20b, G.S. provides that "any record of the arrest of any person, other than a juvenile, except a record erased pursuant to chapter 961a, shall be a public record from the time of such arrest and shall be disclosed" pursuant to 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.


12. The respondents failed to prove the applicability of chapter 961a, G.S. to the information contained in the officers' applications.


13. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., when they denied the complainant's request for a copy of the portions of the officers' job applications indicating arrests and criminal prosecutions.


14. It is found that the medical information taken as part of the officers' application process is contained in two forms, one entitled "Medical Historical Questionnaire", completed by the applicant, and the other entitled "Physical Examination for Fire Fighters and Police Officers," completed by an examining physician.


15. It is found that the "questionnaire" contains detailed data regarding the physical condition and medical history of the applicants and, to a lesser extent, their families. The "physical examination" form records the results of a thorough, intimate physical examination.


Docket #FIC 86-149 Page Three


16. Under the circumstances of this case, there is no public interest in disclosure of the requested medical information.


17. Absent such public interest, it is found that disclosure of the type of medical information in question would constitute an invasion of the officers' personal privacy within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.


18. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S., when they denied the complainant's request for copies of the medical information contained in the officers' applications for employment.


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


1. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with copies of the portions of the employment applications of Officers McGivney, Barton and Dekow which indicate arrests and criminal prosecutions.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 24, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission