FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Steve Burkholder,

 

Complainant,

 

against Docket #FIC 88-323

 

Commanding Officer of the Public Affairs Unit, State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police and State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police,

 

Respondents May 10, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 26, 1988, at which time the parties appeared and presented evidence and testimony on the record.

 

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 request dated July 8, 1988, the complainant asked for copies of all records, including police photographs or videotapes or audiotapes, of the respondents relating to:

(a) April 26, 1985, Middletown -- Speech by Nation of Islam leader the Reverend Louis Farrakhan at Wesleyan University;

 

(b) October 26, 1987, Groton (city) -- Demonstration outside the gates of the Electric Boat shipyard to mark the 25th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis;

 

(c) Dec. 13, 1986, Groton (city and town) -- Protest outside the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton city on the date of the christening of the submarine USS Tennessee. Following that, a march by demonstrators to the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in the town of Groton. The marchers stopped at the southeastern corner of the base before proceeding to the base's main gate, where the procession ended in several arrests;

 

Docket #FIC 88-323 page 2

 

(d) January 1987, Brevard County (Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral), Florida -- Large demonstration protesting the test launching of the Trident D-5 missile. The demonstration occurred on approximately January 9 through January 17, 1987.

 

3. In his letter of request dated July 8, 1988, the complainant also requested all records, including photographs or videotapes or audiotapes, relating to the following groups: the Coalition to Stop Trident; the Atlantic Life Community, the War Resisters League, Plowshares (or Trident "Nein"), (Connecticut) Clergy and Laity Concerned, the Connecticut Freeze Campaign (or Greater Hartford Freeze Campaign), Pledge of Resistance, and the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.

 

4. After the respondents failed to respond to his request, the complainant filed his complaint with the Commission on August 10, 1988.

5. It is found that the records sought by the complainant could be maintained at the Reports and Records Division, or the Criminal Intelligence Unit or the Commissioner's office.

 

6. It is found that the respondents asked both the Reports and Records Division and the Criminal Intelligence Unit whether the records which the complainant seeks exist in their files.

 

7. It is found that the only records found by those offices, which are responsive to the request of the complainant are two travel authorizations (Item 2d) and a 1987 incident report which consisted only of a number used for administration and payroll.

 

8. At hearing the respondents agreed to provide the complainant with travel authorizations and the complainant agreed that the names of the officers who traveled to Florida might be deleted.

 

9. It found that the respondents failed to comply with the complainant's request to the extent that it failed to check the files in the Commissioner's office regarding the items requested.

 

10. It is found that the respondents failed to prove that any of the requested records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19, G.S.

 

11. The complainant claimed that since other similar requests made in the 1980's had resulted in the disclosure of operations plans and other memos relevant to state police

 

Docket #FIC 88-323 page 3

 

surveillance of protests and demonstrations, that in response to his current request similar records should be forthcoming.

 

12. The complainant further claimed that the Legislative Hearings on State Police Surveillance and Investigative Techniques conducted in January, 1985, revealed that some police investigative files are never destroyed.

 

13. It is found that the complainant witnessed state police videotaping the crowd at the speech by the Reverend Louis Farrakhan at Wesleyan University in 1985.

 

14. It is found that the respondents did not retain the videotapes taken at Wesleyan University during the speech of Reverend Louis Farrakhan.

 

15. It is found that records maintenance and destruction procedures of the state police have changed since 1985.

 

16. It is found that the respondents may have some files maintained under names and case numbers of individuals who were arrested at the demonstrations in the city and town of Groton.

 

17. It is found that the complainant failed to request the files by the name of specific individuals or by case number.

 

18. It is concluded that pursuant to 1-15, G.S., et seq. the respondents are not required to do research to obtain the names of individuals who were arrested in connection with the matters with respect to which the complainant seeks records.

 

19. It is further found that, except for his failure to inquire in the Commissioner's office, the respondents made a reasonable effort to comply with the complainant's request.

 

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

 

1. The respondents shall inquire at the office of the Commissioner of the State Police whether any records requested by the complainant are retained in that office.

 

2. The respondents shall provide the complainant with copies of records requested by the complainant if such records are found in the office of the Commissioner of State Police.

 

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 10, 1989.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission