FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Gregory S. Fielding,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-63

 

Police Department, Department of Traffic Engineering and Office of Corporation Counsel of the

City of Hartford,

 

Respondents June 10, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 14, 1987, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. On or about June 9, 1986 the complainant's car was towed from Prospect Street in Hartford by order of the respondent police department. On or about June 13, 1986 the complainant completed a form requesting a hearing to determine whether the towing was authorized by 14-150(d), G.S.

 

3. By letter dated January 17, 1987 the complainant made a request of the respondent police department for a hearing request form "as described in S.S. 14-150(d)" in connection with the towing of his vehicle.

 

4. By letter dated January 17, 1987 the complainant made a request of the respondent department of traffic engineering for copies of "the documentation described in Chapter 7, Section 7 'Traffic Authority,'" relating to the location on Prospect Street from which his car was towed.

 

5. By letter dated January 17, 1987 the complainant made a request of Hartford's "chief executive officer" for documentation of the date, place and time of the hearing requested on or about June 13, 1986. The complainant also requested the name and address of the hearing officer registered with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles as of June 13, 1986 and

 

Docket #FIC 87-63 Page Two

 

of the hearing officer registered as of January 17, 1987. Such request was referred to the respondent office of corporation counsel.

 

6. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on February 7, 1987 the complainant appealed the respondents' failure to provide the requested information.

 

7. It is found that the respondent police department does not maintain a form for requesting a hearing pursuant to 14-150(d), G.S. Prior to his January 17, 1987 letter of request the complainant had been so informed repeatedly, but insisted that pursuant to 14-150(d), G.S. the form should have been available at the police department.

 

8. It is found that the requested form is not a record prepared, owned, used, received or retained by the respondent police department and that the failure to provide a copy of such record upon request did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.

 

9. It is found that approximately one week prior to the hearing in this matter the respondent department of traffic engineering located the records referred to at paragraph 4, above. The respondent department of traffic engineering claims that the delay was due to the location of the records, dated 1975, in the City's archives. The complainant has been provided with copies of such documents.

 

10. It is found that the location of the records does not account for a delay of almost 3 months in providing the complainant with the requested information and that such delay violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

11. It is found that because the City of Hartford does not conduct towing appeal hearings pursuant to 14-150, G.S., no documentation of a hearing date exists. The failure to provide the hearing information referred to at paragraph 5, above, did not, therefore, violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.

 

12. Several days prior to hearing a representative of the respondent office of corporation counsel met with the complainant and provided information regarding the 12 hearing officers who conduct "tow objection" hearings pursuant to City of Hartford procedures. It was not known whether the 12 were registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

Docket #FIC 87-63 Page Three

 

13. It is found that the respondents' alleged failure to provide a hearing upon request, alleged failure to comply with the terms of 14-150, G.S. and alleged improprieties in connection with the towing of the complainant's car are not matters within the jurisdiction of this Commission and will not be treated in this report.

 

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

 

1. The respondent department of traffic engineering henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 10, 1987.

 

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission