FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Docket #FIC 1996-598
November 12, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Andrea Alexander, Complainant
Chief of Police, New Canaan Police Department
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 23, 1997 at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. By letter dated June 19, 1997 and filed with the Commission on June 23, 1997, the complainant withdrew her complaint against the respondent Chief of Police, Trumbull Police Department. Therefore, the case caption was modified to remove the Chief of Police, Trumbull Police Department as a party respondent in this matter.
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(1), G.S., (§ 1-18a(a), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997).
2. It is found that by letter dated October 30, 1996, the complainant, through counsel, requested that the respondent permit her to inspect or to obtain a copy of all records in the possession of the respondents department which in any way relate to the complainant, including, any and all reports concerning an incident that occurred in the Town of Trumbull on October 18, 1996 involving the complainant (hereinafter "requested records").
3. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainant appealed to the Commission by letter filed on November 18, 1996, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying her access to the requested records.
4. It is found that the respondent maintains the requested records, and such records are public records within the meaning of § 1-18a(5), G.S., (§ 1-18a(d), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997) and § 1-19(a), G.S.
Docket #FIC 1996-598 Page 2
5. It is found that the respondent provided the complainant with some of the requested records on or about July 7, 31 and September 23, 1997, however, the respondent has not provided the complainant with a) audio tapes referred to in Lieutenant Coles November 13, 1996 report to Captain Christopher Lynch, now the Chief of Police, New Canaan Police Department, and b) investigation file records, described as Exhibit B item #12, "Investigation reports", in counsel for the respondents July 7, 1997 letter to counsel for the complainant.
6. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant indicated that of the records described in counsel for the respondents July 7, 1997 letter to counsel for the complainant as Exhibit A items #1 through #7, she had received items #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 from the respondent, and b) of the records described in counsel for the respondents July 7, 1997 letter to counsel for the complainant as Exhibit B items #1 through #16, she had not received, and is still seeking all the records described as item #12, "Investigation reports".
7. It is found that the respondent failed to provide the complainant with a copy of all of the requested records promptly, and therefore, he violated § § 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
8. It is further found that the respondent failed to provide the Commission with any justification for the approximately nine month delay in providing the complainant with a copy of the requested records which he eventually provided to the complainant in July and September 1997, as described in paragraph 5 of the findings, above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide free of charge to the complainant, a copy of all records not yet provided to the complainant that are responsive to the complainants request, as described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, including the audio tapes and investigation file records, described in paragraph 5 of the findings, above, and any other records that may exist that are responsive to the complainants records request as described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, but excluding the records described in counsel for the respondents July 7, 1997 letter to counsel for the complainant as Exhibit B items #1 through #11, inclusive, and items #14 through #16, inclusive, which records counsel for the complainant indicated at the hearing that the complainant is not presently seeking.
2. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with an affidavit attesting that all of the records ordered disclosed and described in paragraph 1 of the order have been so provided to the complainant.
Docket #FIC 1996-598 Page 3
3. The Commission takes this opportunity to remind the respondent that future violations of the FOI Act without reasonable grounds may lead to the imposition of civil penalties.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 12, 1997.
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 1996-598 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:
c/o Thomas W. Bucci, Esq.
Willinger, Shepro, Tower & Bucci, P.C.
855 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Chief of Police
New Canaan Police Department
c/o Frank Murphy
Tierney, Zullo, Flaherty, & Murphy, P.C.
134 East Avenue
P.O. Box 2028 - Belden Station
Norwalk, CT 06852-2028
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission