FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Daniel R. Waleski,
against Docket #FIC 90-271
Derby Police Department and Lieutenants Charles Corcoran and Andrew Cota as members of the Derby Police Department,
Respondent(s) June 12, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 30, 1990, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The original caption for the case designated the Derby Board of Police Commissioners (hereinafter "Board") as a party respondent in this matter. However, the Board was improvidently named as a party and is hereby removed as a respondent in this matter.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint dated July 20, 1990, and filed with the Commission on July 23, 1990, the complainant alleged that the respondents failed to adequately respond to his July 17, 1990 request for information concerning an arrest which occurred on the night of July 14, 1990.
3. It is found that on July 17, 1990, the complainant made an in person request for all information pertaining to the arrest of an intruder in his neighborhood on the evening of July 14, 1990.
4. It is found that the complainant posed a series of questions to the respondents in an effort to elicit information about the suspect and his arrest.
5. It is found that the information requested by the complainant is contained in records maintained by the respondents.
Docket #FIC 90-271 Page 2
6. It is found that under the facts of this case, although the complainant made no specific request for particular documentation, the respondents were best situated to aid the complainant in clarifying his request as being one for records maintained by the respondents.
7. The respondents concede that much of what the complainant requested is compiled and maintained by the respondent police department as record of arrest information.
8. It is found that the requested information is maintained as a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
9. The respondents maintain that although the complainant made no specific request for particular documentation concerning the arrest, the complainant was provided with information from the record of arrest information pursuant to 1-20b, G.S., on the date of his inquiry.
10. It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with the suspect's name, age, address, the offense for which he was arrested, and information regarding the suspect's bail arrangements and court appearance.
11. It is found that the complainant also sought information regarding the respondent's investigation into the criminal charges, the suspect's prior arrest history, including prior criminal charges and convictions, and information about the suspect's present employment, if any.
12. The respondents contend that with respect to the suspect's prior criminal/arrest history, the respondent police department limits its search to Derby police records, and if the suspect was never arrested in Derby then no prior record would exist except for information concerning outstanding arrest warrants for any failures to appear at arraignments.
13. The respondents maintain that neither criminal history nor employment history information on the suspect was in their possession at the time of the complainant's request.
14. It is found that by letter dated July 24, 1990 (hereinafter "July letter"), the respondent police department denied the complainant's request for information other than the record of arrest which had already been provided.
Docket #FIC 90-271 Page 3
15. It is found that in its July letter the respondent police department cited department policy and a pending court action as the reason for the denial of all other information pertaining to the arrest and apprehension of the suspect.
16. It is found, however, that at the time of the complainant's request there were no other documents in the respondents' possession other than the record of arrest information which had been already disclosed to the complainant.
17. It is found, therefore, that under the facts of this case, the complainant was provided with all available disclosable information in accordance with 1-19, G.S., at the time of his request.
18. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty as requested by the complainant.
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 complainant sought the information regarding an arrest which was made possible by the fact that the complainant and two other citizens apprehended and detained the suspect until members of the respondent department could arrive on the scene.
3. The Commission also notes that while the complainant and his neighbors acted in the best tradition of community involvement, the respondents did not act in the best tradition of public service, or in the spirit of Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act, by initially failing to assist and focus the efforts of the complainant in his quest for documentation regarding the arrest.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 12, 1991.
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 90-271 Page 4
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:
DANIEL R. WALESKI
34 Elm Street
Derby, CT 06418
DERBY POLICE DEPARTMENT AND LIEUTENANTS CHARLES CORCORAN AND ANDREW COTA AS MEMBERS OF THE DERBY POLICE DEPARTMENT
35 Fifth Street
Derby, CT 06418
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission