FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 92-77
Reports and Records Division, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police,
Respondent February 10, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 31 and September 21, 1992, at which times 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. On February 26 and 27, 1992, the complainant went to the respondent's office and requested access to inspect a total of three accident reports on file with the respondent (hereinafter "reports") and upon review of such reports, he requested copies of same.
3. On both occasions described in pargraph 2, above, the respondent's Supervisor of Reports and Records informed the complainant that he must put his request for copies in writing on a prescribed request form; that his request would be processed in accordance with the normal processing of such requests; and that he would receive the requested reports within three months.
4. By letter dated February 27, 1992 and filed March 2, 1992, the complainant appealed to the Commission and alleged that the procedures implemented by the respondent concerning the provision of accident reports violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter "FOI") Act .
Docket #FIC 92-77 Page 2
5. It is concluded that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
6. Section 1-15, G.S., provides:
"Any person applying in writing shall receive promptly
upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public
7. It is found that the complainant received copies of the requested reports approximately twelve weeks from the dates of his requests and that the reports were between two and three pages in length.
8. It is also found that any member of the respondent's staff is capable of fulfilling requests for copies of reports.
9. It is also found that it is the respondent's policy to require that requests for copies of reports be put in writing. The respondent's office in turn, processes such requests in the order that they are received, whether the request is received via the mail or delivered in person.
10. It is also found that the respondent implements the policy described in paragraph 9, above, even if the requester has appeared in person, has already asked to inspect the report and the report has already been pulled, as was the case with respect to the complainant's requests.
11. The respondent maintains that if it were to attempt to provide copies of reports immediately upon request, it would hinder its regular operations because a staff member would have to interrupt what he or she was doing, prepare the copies, process the fees charged and replace the file.
12. The respondent further maintains that prior to the implementation of the policy described in paragraph 9, above, its backlog for requests for copies of reports was more than three months and that since the date of the complainant's requests, the backlog has narrowed to approximately seven working days. The respondent attributes the decreased backlog to the implementation of the policy, described in paragraph 9, above, and claims that it is the most efficient manner to process such requests.
13. It is found that the respondent's policy concerning processing of requests for copies of reports is not inherently violative of the FOI Act, and the Commission will not attempt to
Docket #FIC 92-77 Page 3
second-guess the respondent's judgment concerning its overall efficiency or the appropriateness of its implementation.
14. It is further found in this case however, that the respondent failed to prove that the complainant received prompt access to the requested reports, described in paragraph 2, above; and it is therefore concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S, in this case.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Because the complainant has received copies of the requested reports, it is unnecessary for the Commission to order their disclosure.
2. The Commission notes the likelihood that the respondent will experience a decrease in requests for reports, in light of the recent decision in Department of Public Safety v. Freedom of Information Commission, 29 Conn. App. 821 (1993).
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 10, 1993.
Mitchell W. Pearlman
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-77 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:
205 Fourth Street
Meriden, CT 06450
Reports and Records Division, State of Connecticut
Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police
c/oAsst. Atty. Gen. Martin Rosenfeld
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Mitchell W. Pearlman
Acting Clerk of the Commission