FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Edward A. Peruta,
against Docket #FIC 92-245
O. Paul Shew, Rocky Hill Town Manager and Philip Dunn, Acting Chief of Police, Rocky Hill Police Department,
Respondents March 24, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 4, 1993, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated and filed July 21, 1992, the complainant appealed to the Commission and alleged that the respondents improperly redacted and charged fees for certain transcripts requested by the complainant. In addition, the complainant requested that the Commission impose civil penalties against the respondents.
3. It is found that during June 1992, the complainant requested copies of certain transcribed audio tape recordings of three conversations between Detective Joseph Corbin and John Kulick.
4. It is also found that the respondents required, and the complainant prepaid a fee of twenty-six dollars and fifty cents for copies of the requested transcripts.
5. It is found that on or about June 29, 1992, the complainant reviewed copies of the requested transcripts, but
Docket #FIC 92-245 Page 2
that the respondents had redacted significant portions thereof.
6. It is found that on or about July 20, 1992, the respondents provided the complainant with unredacted transcripts. Based upon his review of the unredacted transcipts, the complainant maintains that the transcripts he received on or about June 29, 1992, were improperly redacted by the respondents in violation of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act and that the money he paid for the redacted transcripts should be refunded to him.
7. It is found that the requested transcripts pertain to, and were part of, the Rocky Hill Police Department's criminal investigation of the complainant, which investigation had a suspended status at the time of the complainant's June 1992 requests.
8. The respondents maintain that their original redactions of the requested transcripts were done based upon their belief that the transcripts would reveal the identity of a confidential informant.
9. The respondents also maintain that sometime following the complainant's original request and the provision of the redacted transcripts, they were informed that the informant no longer wished his identity to remain confidential. Thereafter, they provided the complainant with the unredacted transcripts.
10. Section 1-19(b)(3), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of certain law enforcement records, including records that would result in the disclosure of informants not otherwise known.
11. It is found that the respondents' initial redactions of the requested transcripts were virtually categorical and included, among other things, information concerning a detective in the Rocky Hill Police Department, in addition to the information that would reveal the informant's identity.
12. It is therefore found that the respondents failed to prove that their initial redactions of the requested transcripts, even if based upon their intention to protect the identity of the informant, were limited solely to redactions of information exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3), G.S.
13. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents violated the provisions of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), by failing to promptly provide the complainant with copies of those portions of the records that were not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3), G.S.
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14. The Commission, in its discretion, declines to impose civil penalties upon the respondents.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
2. The respondents shall, within thirty days of the mailing of the notice of final decision in this matter, remit to the complainant, the sum of twenty-six dollars and fifty cents, the amount originally paid by the complainant for the improperly redacted transcripts.
3. The Commission notes that the respondent chief of police authorized a detective to do the original redactions of the transcripts. The Commission suggests that the chief implement a procedure whereby he, or someone else in authority, oversees or reviews documents that are redacted prior to disclosure.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 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:
Edward A. peruta
P.O. Box 307
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
O. Paul Shew. Rocky Hill Town Manager and
Philip Dunn, Acting Chief of Police, Rocky Hill Police Department
c/o Atty. Curtis Roggi
Roggi & Stuhlman
1160 Silas Deane Highway
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission