FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Charlie Williams,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-290

 

Gary V. Crosson, Director of Safety/Agency Police, State of Connecticut Department of Public Works,

 

Respondent January 13, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 2, 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 September 28, 1987 the complainant, who is employed by the department of public works as a building and grounds patrol officer, made a request of the respondent for a copy of charges brought against him by fellow officer Dave Emerson.

 

3. By letter dated October 1, 1987 the respondent stated that he was awaiting approval of the release of the requested information and would notify the complainant as soon as a decision was reached.

 

4. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on October 6, 1987 the complainant appealed the respondent's failure to provide him with a copy of the requested records.

 

5. By letter dated October 16, 1987 and filed with the Commission on October 22, 1987 the complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent.

 

6. On October 29, 1987 the complainant received the requested records from the respondent.

 

Docket #FIC 87-290 Page Two

 

7. It is found that when the respondent received the complainant's request he asked the personnel director of the department of public works whether he should release the records. Because the charges did not result in any disciplinary action the respondent did not believe he was required to release them. The personnel director told him not to release the records until the issue of disclosure had been researched.

 

8. On October 27, 1987 the respondent learned that he was required to release the records, and was prepared to do so on October 28, 1987. The complainant, who was not at work on that date, received the records the next day.

 

9. The respondent claims that he initially withheld the records based upon his belief that their release was not required, that the decision on disclosability was in the hands of persons other than himself and that as soon as a decision was reached he released the records.

 

10. It is found that a delay of approximately one month between the complainant's request and his receipt of the records denied him the right to prompt access to public records, in violation of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

11. It is further found that the respondent cannot avoid responsibility for the delay by delegating to others the decision on disclosure.

 

12. The Commission, however, declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondent.

 

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

 

1. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S. regarding prompt access to public records.

 

2. The Commission notes that future failure to comply with 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S. will subject the respondent to the possible imposition of civil penalties of up to $1,000.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 13, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission