In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Stafford Springs Police Association,




against Docket #FIC 87-360


Stafford Springs Police Commission,


Respondent March 9, 1988


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 20, 1988, 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 of complaint filed with the Commission on November 27, 1987 the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by holding a secret meeting on November 17, 1987.


3. Specifically, the complainant claims that Commissioner Enders and Commissioner Perlot, members of the respondent, met with the Stafford Springs Police Chief on November 17, 1987 without proper notice and agenda. The complainant also alleged that the respondent failed to file minutes of the meeting in question, in violation of 1-21(a), G.S.


4. It is found that the respondent is composed of three members and that two members constitute a quorum.


5. It is further found that the Warden of the Stafford Springs Court of Burgess appointed each member of the respondent to serve on an ad hoc commission, to analyze and make recommendations concerning police operations and "consistent police overruns."


Docket #FIC 87-360 Page 2


6. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent. However, the complainant withdrew this request at the hearing.


7. It is found that on November 17, 1987 the Police Chief, Commissioner Enders and Commissioner Perlot held a "fact-finding" session to identify and discuss problems relating to cost overruns in the department.


8. At the hearing, the respondent conceded the November 17, 1987 meeting was held in violation of the Freedom of Information Act's notice and agenda requirements, but stated that he just recently became familiar with the Act's requirements.


9. It is concluded that the respondent's failure to file notice of the meeting in question violated 1-21(a), G.S.


10. It is also concluded that the respondent's failure to keep minutes of the meeting in question violated 1-19(a) and 1-21(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 respondent shall henceforth comply with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S., regarding notice and minutes of, and public access to meetings of public agencies.


2. The respondent, within one week of the Final Decision in this matter, shall create minutes, reflecting to the fullest extent possible, the discussions and occurrences at the meeting in question, and shall cause a copy of the same to be filed with the town clerk in accordance with 1-21(a), G.S.


3. The respondent shall, within thirty days of the Final Decision in this matter, schedule and attend a workshop to be conducted by one of the Commission's staff attorneys, on the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. This workshop shall be open to the complainant, as well as to members of the public.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of March 9, 1988.


Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission