FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Donna M. Raineault,
against Docket #FIC 92-184
Chief of Police, Middletown Police Department,
Respondent January 27, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 2, 1992, 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 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 and hand-delivered May 21, 1992, the complainant requested from the respondent a copy of a police report pertaining to a fire that occurred on April 25, 1992 at Safe Way Disposal Systems, Inc., in Middletown, identified in the Middletown Police Department's log as #9210175 (hereinafter "Safe Way fire"). The complainant also requested an opportunity to listen to the tape recording of the dispatch call and response relating to the Safe Way fire (hereinafter "dispatch tape").
3. By letter dated May 28, 1992 and filed June 11, 1992, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent failed to respond to her request for records.
4. It is found that under a cover letter dated May 29, 1992, the respondent provided the complainant with a copy of a computer printout concerning the Safe Way fire. The respondent also informed the complainant that a formal report was not
Docket #FIC 92-184 Page 2
prepared in connection with the Safe Way fire. The respondent's May 29, 1992 letter did not, however, contain any reference to the requested dispatch tape.
5. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent provided the complainant with a copy of several shift commander's activity reports, including a report for April 25, 1992, that contained a reference to the Safe Way fire, although these reports were not within the scope of the complainant's May 21, 1992 request for a copy of the respondent's police report concerning the Safe Way fire.
6. The complainant maintains that the respondent's failure to respond to her request within the statutory time period and his failure to respond at all to her request for access to the dispatch tape violated the Freedom of Information Act.
7. Section 1-15, G.S., provides:
"Any person applying in writing shall receive promptly
upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public
8. Section 1-21i(a), G.S., provides:
"Any denial of the right to inspect or copy records
provided for under section 1-19 shall be made to
the person requesting such right by the public
agency official who has custody or control of
the public record, in writing, within four business
days of such request."
9. It is found that, because no official police report exists, the respondent did not violate the Freedom of Information Act with respect to that portion of the complaint dealing with the complainant's request for a copy of the police report.
10. With respect to the complainant's dispatch tape request, the respondent maintains that a dispatch tape was not provided because a review of the department's tape recorder log indicated there was no tape recording for April 25, 1992.
11. It is found however, that the department's tape recorder log indicates that the tape was changed at 3:00 a.m on April 24, 1992, which tape would have run until 3:00 a.m. April 25, 1992, if the recorder had been operating properly.
Docket #FIC 92-184 Page 3
12. It is also found that the Safe Way fire occurred at approximately 12:00 a.m on April 25, 1992 and that if the machine had been operating properly, it would have recorded the dispatch concerning the Safe Way fire.
13. It is further found that rather than listen to the tape described in paragraph 11 above, the respondent concluded that there must have been a problem with the operation of the tape recorder, that there was no dispatch tape for the timeframe covering the Safe Way fire and that he need not respond to the complainant's request.
14. It is concluded with respect to the complainant's request for access to the dispatch tape, that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to respond and to provide the complainant with prompt access to the tapes in its possession that may have been responsive to her request.
15. It is found however, that the tape described in paragraph 11 above, no longer exists because it was recorded over during the following month, pursuant to the Middletown Police Department's standard operating procedure.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-19(a), G.S.
2. The Commission notes that the respondent apparently does not have adequate procedures for meeting the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act with respect to public access to the respondent's tape recordings. The Commission urges the respondent to establish such procedures in order to avoid unnecessary future disputes.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 27, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-184 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:
Donna M. Raineault
c/o Attorney Maria Madsen Holtzberg
46 Washington Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Chief of Police, Middletown Police Department
c/o Attorney Timothy P. Lynch
City Attorney's Office
245 DeKoven Drive
P.O. Box 1300
Middletown, CT 06457-1300
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission