FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Richard Plaskonka,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-364

 

Dana Whitman, Town Manager and Phillip Schnabel, Chief of Police of the Town of Rocky Hill,

 

Respondents April 13, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 22, 1988, 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. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on December 9, 1987 the complainant alleged that he had been denied "prompt access" to the personnel files of three police officers of the Rocky Hill Police Department.

 

3. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.

 

4. At the hearing, Officers Ardo A. Rossi, Richard W. Degen and Roy Bombaci moved to become parties in the case. The hearing officer reserved decision on the motion and granted the three officers intervenor status, with full rights of participation in the proceedings on the matter before the Commission.

 

5. Pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S., Officers Rossi, Degen and Bombaci are hereby granted party status in the case.

 

Docket #FIC 87-364 Page 2

 

6. It is found that on or about December 2, 1987 the complainant made an oral request of the respondent police chief to inspect the personnel files of Officers Richard W. Degen and Roy Bombaci and Sergeant Ardo A. Rossi.

 

7. Specifically, the complainant was seeking access to closed files of the three officers concerning any civilian complaints that had been filed against them and any disciplinary action taken against them, in addition to the police officers' conduct and performance evaluations and salary history.

 

8. It is found that once the request was made to inspect the personnel files in question, the respondent police chief notified the three officers immediately in accordance with 1-20a(b), G.S., which states in pertinent part,

 

whenever a public agency receives a request to inspect or copy records contained in any file of its employees' personnel or medical files and similar files and the agency reasonably believes that the disclosure of such records would legally constitute an invasion of privacy, the agency shall immediately notify in writing each employee concerned. . .

 

9. It is found that within a few hours of such notification the respondent police chief, a union representative, Attorney Thomas Vigue, representing the union and the three police officers met to discuss the complainant's request.

 

10. It is also found that on December 2, 1987, Attorney Vigue filed a written objection on behalf of the three police officers to the disclosure of the following information:

 

a. medical records;

b. marital status;

c. home address;

d. home phone number;

e. any and all information relating to family members;

f. dates of birth;

g. social security numbers;

h. records of pending grievances;

i. records of polygraph tests; and

j. records protected from disclosure by federal and state

statute.

 

Docket #FIC 87-364 Page 3

 

11. It is found that on December 2, 1987 the three officers, along with the union attorney, went through each of the officers' personnel files and excised information described in paragraph 10, above.

 

12. It is found that on or about December 4, 1987 a letter was hand-delivered to the complainant indicating that the three personnel files were available for his inspection.

 

13. The only issue before the Commission is whether the complainant was provided prompt access to the requested information as required by 1-19(a), G.S.

 

14. It is found that in view of the requirements imposed under 1-20a(b), G.S., the respondents' failure to produce immediately the requested information 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. The Commission notes that the above-captioned case was dismissed solely on the question of "prompt access" and should not be interpreted as meaning that the Commission condones the excising of the information described in paragraph 10 of the findings, above.

 

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

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission