FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Carol A. Rubin,
against Docket #FIC 92-111
Danbury Police Department,
Respondent February 24, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 25, 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 of complaint filed by facsimile on April 6, 1992 and by regular mail on April 8, 1992, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging an April 3, 1992 denial by the respondent of her request for an incident report on a closed case.
3. The complainant also requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent, alleging that the basis for the respondent's denial was unrelated litigation between the parties to this complaint.
4. It is found that the complainant made a telephone request on March 27, 1992 for all records pertaining to case #90-00293.
5. It is found that the complainant was told by the respondent to put the request in writing.
6. It is found that the complainant made a written request for the records described in paragraph 4, above, on March 28, 1992.
7. It is found that the respondent initially denied the complainant's request on March 3, 1992, until its attorney could review the requested records, because there was a lawsuit between the parties to this complaint.
8. It is found that the records sought by the complainant are not related to the subject matter of the lawsuit.
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9. It is found that the complainant spoke with the respondent's attorney on April 9, 1992, who informed the complainant that she would instruct the respondent to release the incident report concerning the case referenced in paragraph 4, above.
10. It is found that the respondent provided the complainant with the incident report, but no other documents.
11. It is found that the respondent maintains an "incident card" which logs the visit by the complaining party that initiated the incident report described above, and which is responsive to the complainant's request, which the respondent is now willing to provide to the complainant.
12. It is found that the incident card is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
13. It is also found that the incident card does not on its face appear to contain information of significant value to the complainant.
14. It is concluded nonetheless that the respondent technically violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide upon request the document referenced in paragraph 11, above.
15. The complainant maintains that the respondent must have additional records responsive to her request.
16. Specifically, the complainant argues that the respondent must have a copy of an arrest warrant application and the affidavit in support of the warrant application, since an arrest warrant was applied for.
17. It is found that an application for an arrest warrant and an affidavit in support for that application were prepared relative to case #90-00293.
18. It is found that the documents described in paragraph 17, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
19. It is found that the application for an arrest warrant was denied.
20. It is found that the records described in paragraph 17, above, were destroyed by the respondent pursuant to its unwritten policy, after the application for an arrest warrant was denied.
21. It is found that the respondent destroys records by shredding, and maintains no log of what records are shredded.
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22. It is found that the respondent's chief of police asked the investigating officer if he had retained additional copies of the application and affidavit, and the officer said he had not.
23. The respondent maintains that the application and affidavit were properly destroyed pursuant to 1-20c.
24. The complainant maintains that the records were improperly destroyed, arguing that corroborating evidence existed precluding their destruction, and that the one-year-and-90-day period of time provided in 1-20c had not elapsed.
25. It is concluded, however, that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of 1-20c and 1-21k(a), which makes improper records destruction a criminal offense.
26. The Commission advises the complainant that the State Records Administrator is the agency with jurisdiction over the proper retention and destruction of records.
27. In its post-hearing brief, the respondent requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the complainant.
28. It is found that the complaint in this matter was not taken frivolously, without reasonable grounds, and solely for the purpose of harassing the respondent.
29. The respondent's request for a civil penalty is therefore denied.
30. Also after the hearing on this matter, the respondent moved the Commission to dismiss the complaint because the complainant's brief had not been timely filed and was in the nature of a brief responsive to the respondent's brief, rather than a simultaneous brief.
31. Given the respondent's own filing of a subsequent memorandum in support of its motion to dismiss, and in light of the outcome of this case, the Commission finds no prejudice to the respondent and denies the motion to dismiss.
32. Finally, it is found that the respondent's actions in this case were not without reasonable grounds, and denies the complainant's request for civil penalties.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall, if it has not already done so, forthwith provide to the complainant a copy of the incident card described in paragraph 11 of the findings, above.
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2. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 24, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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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:
Carol A. Rubin
127 Eastern Avenue
P.O. Box 8008
Gloucester, MA 01931-8008
Danbury Police Department
c/o Laszlo L. Pinter
Asst. Corporation Counsel
155 Deer Hill Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission