FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Thomas S. O'Grady and Protective Services Employees Coalition,

 

Complainants,

 

against Docket #FIC 89-334

 

State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police, Welfare Investigation Unit,

 

Respondent January 10, 1990

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 7, 1989, at which time the complainants 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 and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated March 21, 1989, the complainants requested the respondent provide them with access to:

 

a. copies of the respondent's unit monthly reports for 1985 to 1989;

 

b. copies of the respondent's annual reports for fiscal years 1985-86, 1986-87 and 1987-88;

 

c. copies of all enforcement officer's monthly evaluations since these ratings began in the Fall of 1988;

 

d. copies of all enforcement officer's annual evaluations for 1985 to 1988, and those issued so far in 1989;

 

e. an explanation of the critera used by supervisors in the unit to complete monthly evaluations; and

 

f. an explanation of the critera used by supervisors in the unit to complete annual evaluations.

 

Docket #FIC 89-334 Page Two

 

3. By letter dated April 4, 1989, the respondent responded to the complainants' request, stating that:

 

a. the records described in paragraphs 2a and b, above, were available;

 

b. the records described in paragraphs 2c and d, above, would be available only if the employees they pertained to authorized their release; and

 

c. the records described in paragraphs 2e and f, above, already had been made available to the complainants in a report from the Office of Police and Management.

 

4. By letter dated July 24, 1989, the complainants reiterated their request, including signed releases from 17 employees authorizing the release of their evaluations.

 

5. By letter dated September 5, 1989, and filed with the Commission on September 6, 1989, the complainants appealed to the Commission.

 

6. It is found that the complainants have received the records described in paragraphs 2a, b and c, above, and these are no longer at issue.

 

7. It is found that the complainants did receive some annual evaluations, as described in paragraph 2d, above.

 

8. It is further found that the complainant did not receive an annual evaluation for each enforcement officer for each year.

 

9. The respondent claims that it gave the respondent all the annual evaluations it could find.

 

10. It is found that annual evaluations other than those given to the complainants do exist.

 

11. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15, G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with copies of all the annual evaluations in its custody.

 

12. It is found that the complainants received the record described in paragraph 2e, above, the criteria for monthly evaluations, on September 7, 1989, some five months after their request.

 

Docket #FIC 89-334 Page Three

 

13. It is concluded that the respondents further violated 1-15, G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with copies of the monthly evaluation criteria promptly upon written request.

 

14. The respondent claims the record describing the criteria for monthly evaluations also describes the criteria for annual evaluations.

 

15. It is found that the record describing the monthly evaluation criteria does explain how the monthly evaluations are used to arrive at the annual evaluations.

 

16. It is found that there is no evidence any other record meeting the description in paragraph 2f, above, exists.

 

17. Thus it is concluded that the respondent provided the complainants with the record described in paragraph 2f, above, albeit belatedly.

 

18. It is found that, although the complainants paid 50 a page for all the records they eventually received from the respondent, they originally requested the records when 1-15, G.S., permitted public agencies to charge a maximum of only 25 a page for public records.

 

19. The respondent claims that it was delayed in disclosing the records because it had to obtain authorizations from the employees involved, as the records were personnel, medical or similar files the disclosure of which would invade personal privacy, falling under 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

20. It is found that the requested records were all personnel records within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

21. It is found that of all the records requested, only those described in paragraphs 2d, above, contain any personal information.

 

22. It is further found that the only personal information found in the annual evaluations are, occasionally, very brief remarks in the comments section that easily could have been masked before copies were made.

 

23. It is concluded, therefore, that 1-19(b)(2), G.S., does not apply to most of the requested records and any to which it might apply easily could have been redacted.

 

24. It is concluded, therefore, that obtaining the

 

Docket # FIC 89-334 Page Four

 

authorization of the employees was not a valid excuse for the undue delay in the disclosure of the requested records.

 

The following order of the Commission is hereby recommended based on the complete record in the above-captioned matter:

 

1. The respondent forthwith shall provide the complainants with copies of the evaluations of enforcement officers for 1985 to 1988, and those issued so far for 1989, which the complainants have not yet received, as listed in Exhibit H.

 

2. The respondent forthwith shall reimburse the complainants one-half the amount they paid for the copies they obtained from the respondent.

 

3. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the open records provisions of 1-15, G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 10, 1990.

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket # FIC 89-334 Page Five

 

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

 

THOMAS S. O'GRADY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES EMPLOYEES COALITION

P. O. Drawer 209

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, DIVISION OF STATE POLICE, WELFARE INVESTIGATION UNIT

c/o Sergeant Robert L. Tolomeo

Labor Relations

Division of State Police

100 Washington Street

Hartford, CT 06106

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission