In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Raymond Proto




against Docket #FIC 87-26


Coventry Police Department


Respondent April 22, 1987


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 12, 1987, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


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


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


2. By letter dated February 12, 1987, the respondent requested the police report of an automobile accident which occurred May 1, 1986.


3. A criminal action arising from the accident was pending in Superior Court at the time of hearing.


4. The respondent denied access to the records on February 20, 1987.


5. 7-282, G.S. provides that


The police department of any city, town or borough having or receiving any memoranda, sketches, charts, written statements, reports or photographs made in the investigation of any accident wherein any person has been injured or property damaged shall preserve and retain the same for a period of at least ten years from the date of such accident. Subsequent to the final disposition of any criminal action arising out of an accident, the records hereinbefore specified and the information contained therein shall be open to public inspection, except that such records shall be available to any person involved in the accident subsequent to the issuance of a warrant or summons in such action.


Docket # FIC 87-26 page two


6. It is found that the records in question are of the type specified in 7-282, G.S. and that the matter of the complainant's arrest for reckless driving has not reached a final disposition.


7. 1-19(a), G.S. provides that all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records "[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute."


8. It is found that 7-282, G.S. exempts from public disclosure the records requested by the complainant.


9. It is also found that this Commission lacks jurisdiction over the administration of 7-282, G.S. regarding disclosure of records to persons who by virtue of the language of such section may have a right of access to records greater than the public right created by 1-19(a), G.S.


10. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S. when it denied the complainant access to the requested records.


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 April 22, 1987.


Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission