FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Sam Lapides,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-143

 

Records Division, State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police,

 

Respondent August 26, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 23, 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 November 12, 1986 the complainant, through counsel, made a request of the respondent for copies of the respondent's records concerning case #G-71-762C, which case concerned the kidnapping, in 1971, of the complainant.

 

3. By letter dated January 26, 1987 the respondent replied that a search for the requested records had been conducted and that the file had been purged. The respondent, in a letter dated February 25, 1987, further indicated that only files relating to homicides, untimely deaths, suicides, accidental deaths, fatal accidents, missing persons and cases "of a very sensitive nature such as government corruption, etc." are kept indefinitely and that the file was probably purged sometime in 1982.

 

4. By letter dated May 1, 1987 the complainant made another request for copies of the respondent's records concerning case #G-71-762C.

 

Docket #FIC 87-143 Page Two

 

5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on May 11, 1987 the complainant appealed the failure of the respondent to respond to his request for records.

 

6. By letter dated May 13, 1987 the respondent again stated that the records concerning the complainant's kidnapping had been purged.

 

7. At hearing the complainant stated that, among other factors, the respondent's delay of over 2 months in responding to his November request caused him to believe that not all records had been purged.

 

8. It is found, however, that all records concerning case #G-71-762C have been destroyed and that the respondent's failure to provide records in response to the complainant's request did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.

 

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.

 

2. As previously noted, the complainant's suspicions were aroused at the respondent's long and unexplained delay in replying to his November request for records. Although the matter of such delay is beyond the Commission's jurisdiction, the Commission directs the respondent's attention to the requirements of 1-15, 1-19(a) and 1-21i(a), G.S. regarding the necessity of prompt responses to requests for public records, and suggests that a prompt initial response might have eliminated the necessity of a hearing before this Commission.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 26, 1987.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission