FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
David M. Meade,
against Docket #FIC 94-196
Putnam Police Department,
Respondent April 26, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 10, 1995, 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 June 14, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that he had been denied certain records of his background investigation conducted by the respondent.
3. It is found that the complainant was an applicant for the position of patrolman with the respondent.
4. It is found that the respondent conducted a background investigation of the complainant.
5. It is found that the complainant was not selected for the position, in part because of the results of the background investigation that indicated a "maturity problem."
6. It is found that the complainant by letters dated March 25, 1994 and June 7, 1994 requested a copy of the record of his background investigation.
7. It is found that the respondent denied the requests by letters dated April 4, 1994 and June 15, 1994.
8. It is found that the requested records were compiled as a result of officers contacting individuals who knew the complainant and who could volunteer information about his character and potential for violence.
Docket #FIC 94-196 Page 2
9. At the hearing, the complainant narrowed his complaint to any records in the background investigation having to do with the so-called maturity problem.
10. It is found that there are two such reports.
11. It is concluded that the requested background investigation reports are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
12. The respondent maintains that the requested reports should not be disclosed because the individuals who were interviewed assumed that they and the information they provided would remain confidential.
13. It is found, however, that the individuals who were interviewed were given no express assurances of confidentiality by the respondent.
14. The respondent further maintains that the requested reports should be withheld for reasons of public policy, asserting that people providing background information about applicants such as the complainant will be more honest and straightforward if their information remains confidential.
15. It is concluded, however, that public policy reasons do not in themselves constitute exemptions to the open records requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.
16. Further, it is found that the respondent asserted no statutory defense to the disclosure of the requested reports, and failed to prove that the reports were exempt from disclosure.
17. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the requested reports.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall forthwith provide to the complainant a copy of the two background investigation records identified in paragraphs 9 and 10 of the findings, above.
2. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 26, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-196 Page 3
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:
DAVID M. MEADE
P.O. Box 433
Brooklyn, CT 06234
PUTNAM POLICE DEPARTMENT
c/o Douglas Williams, Esq.
Boland, St. Onge & Brouillard
P.O. Box 550
Putnam, CT 06260
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission