FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Docket #FIC 1997-062
September 24, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Nancy Andrews and WVIT,
Channel 30, Complainants
Chief of Police, Bloomfield Police Department Respondent
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 22, 1997, at which time the complainants 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. It is found that on February 15, 1997 while on patrol, a Bloomfield police officer videotaped a car chase and certain Hartford police officers allegedly assaulting an individual, James Wilson (hereinafter "the incident").
3. It is found that following the incident, the Bloomfield detective bureau commenced a criminal investigation into the conduct of certain police officers.
4. It is found that on February 18, 1997, the complainants requested that the respondent provide them with the video tape of the incident.
5. It is found that the respondent denied the request on February 19, 1997, indicating that a criminal investigation was ongoing.
6. Having failed to receive the requested video tape, the complainants, by letter dated and filed on February 19, 1997, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying them access to the video tape.
Docket # FIC 1997-062 Page 2
7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.
8. Section 1-19(b)(3)(C), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of "[r]ecords of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action."
9. It is found that at the time of the complainants request, the respondent maintained the requested tape. However, at that time the investigation described in paragraph 3 of the findings, above, was ongoing and immediate release of the video tape could have compromised such investigation.
10. It is also found that upon completion of the criminal investigation, described in paragraphs 3 and 9 of the findings, above, and at the request of the Hartford States Attorney, the respondent on February 25, 1997 turned over the video tape to the Hartford States Attorney.
11. It is further found that the Hartford States Attorney prosecuted certain police officers involved in the incident, and such prosecution is pending.
12. Section 1-19c, G.S., provides that the division of criminal justice is not a public agency except in respect to its administrative functions. Therefore, this Commission lacks jurisdiction over the Hartford States Attorney with respect to disclosure of the video tape.
13. It is also found that the video tape was compiled by the respondent in connection with the detection and investigation of crime within the meaning of § 1-19(b)(3)(C), G.S.
14. It is therefore, concluded that disclosure of the video tape by the respondent at the time of the complainants request would not have been be in the public interest
Docket #FIC 1997-062 Page 3
because it would result in the disclosure of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action, prejudicial to such action, within the meaning of § 1-19(b)(3)(C), G.S.
15. It is further concluded that the respondent did not violate § § 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., when he failed to provide the complainants with the requested tape at the time of their request.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 24, 1997.
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC1997-062 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:
Nancy Andrews and WVIT, Channel 30
c/o Philip S. Wellman, Esq.
Day, Berry & Howard
Hartford, CT. 06103-3499
Chief of Police, Bloomfield Police Department
c/o Marc N. Needelman, Esq.
800 Cottage Grove Road, Ste. 313
Bloomfield, CT. 06002
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission