FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

David W. Dyer,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 86-169

 

Chief of Police, Town of Simsbury,

 

Respondent October 8, 1986

 

The above captioned matter was scheduled for hearing July 7, 1986, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared. Thereafter the matter was continued until July 28, 1986, and then to August 4, 1986, at which time the parties presented evidence and argument upon the complaint.

 

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

 

2. On May 24, 1986 the complainant requested several types of personnel records from the respondent.

 

3. On May 29, 1986 the respondent provided some of the requested records.

 

4. On June 10, 1986 the complainant filed his complaint with the Commission, claiming that he was entitled to receive police attendance records with individual names and dates, for the period from January 1 to May 24, 1986, and that he was also entitled to receive the personnel file of Officer Mihalick, except for social security information, medical records not work related and information on third persons.

 

5. The personnel file of Officer Mihalik contained medical reports concerning Mihalik's physical fitness for his job as a police officer, exam and course results, a certificate of completion of state fire school, and certificates indicating educational achievement and other information relevant to his performance as a police officer.

 

Docket #FIC 86-169 page two

 

6. The personnel file contains additional records including correspondence, agreements, commendations, a reprimand, a form for part-time employment, memos concerning ammunition discharge, receipts, fingerprints, an agreement to protect the confidentiality of computerized criminal data, general employment information contained on an application for employment, and letters of thanks from citizens whom Officer Mihalik had assisted.

 

7. The letters of thanks contained some information concerning the writers of the letters which if disclosed would constitute an invasion of the privacy of those who wrote them.

 

8. It is found that with the exception of the contents of the letters described at paragraph 7, that the public has a legitimate interest in the contents of the personnel file sought by the complainant, and that the legitimate interest of the public outweighs any possible embarrassment or humiliation which Officer Mihalik might experience as a result of its disclosure.

 

9. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent failed to prove the personnel file of Officer Mihalik, except for the material described at paragraph 8, is not exempt under 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

10. The complainant stated at his hearing that his request for the personnel file should be understood to include a request for the annual evaluations of Officer Mihalik.

 

11. The respondent does not maintain the annual evaluations of Officer Mihalik in his personnel file.

 

12. It is found that the complainant's request, if reasonably interpreted, is a request for annual evaluations of the officer.

 

13. It is found that the annual evaluations of the performance of Officer Mihalik are not exempt under 1-19(b)(2), G.S., for the same reasons stated at paragraph 8.

 

14. It is found that attendance records are similar to personnel files within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

15. It is further found that the public has a legitimate interest in the specifics of the attendance records such as the names of the specific police officers and the dates for absences.

 

Docket #FIC 86-169 page three

 

16. It is concluded that the interest of the public outweighs any embarassment or humiliation which might be suffered by police officers as a result of the disclosure of the specifics of their attendance records, and that, therefore, the records are subject to disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

17. The complainant has requested the imposition of a civil penalty.

 

18. It is found that the imposition of a civil penalty is inappropriate in this case.

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall provide the attendance records to the complainant with the specifics of names and dates as requested.

 

2. The respondent shall provide the complainant with the personnel file of Officer Mihalik, but it may mask from disclosure the information contained in the letters of thanks which are described at paragraph 7, above.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 8, 1986.

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission