FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Ethan Book,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-206

Chief of Police, Fairfield Police Department,

 

 

Respondents

February 18, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 2, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, 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 dated June 25, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with a copy of the following records pertaining to incident No. 96-8542 (hereinafter "requested records"):

a. a copy of the statement which is referred to in the police reports; and

b. a copy of the warrant application and related documents.

        3. It is found that the respondent denied the request by telephone on July 1, 1997.

        4. By letter dated July 4, 1997, and filed with the Commission on July 7, 1997, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by failing to provide him with a copy of the requested records.

        5. It is found that the respondent maintains the requested records which consist of a statement and an arrest warrant application.

        6. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S., and 1-19(a), G.S.

        7. The respondent contends that the statement, described in paragraph 5 of the findings, above, is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2) and 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S. The respondent further contends that the arrest warrant application, described in paragraph 5 of the findings, above, is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3)(A) and 1-19(b)(3)(G), G.S.

        8. Section 1-19(b)(2), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of "personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy."

        9. Section 1-19(b)(3), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of:

records 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 (A) the identity of informants not otherwise known or the identity of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known, (B) signed statements of witnesses … or (G) uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-20c.

        10. Following the hearing on this matter, the respondent submitted the records at issue to the Commission for an in camera inspection.

        11. With respect to the respondent’s claim of exemption pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S., the respondent failed to prove that the records constitute personnel, medical and similar file, within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S., and further that disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy within the meaning of Perkins v. FOIC, 228 Conn. 158 (1993).

        12. With respect to the respondent’s 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S., claim that the statement is exempt, it is found that the statement is a signed complaint and not a signed statement of a witness, within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S.

        13. With respect to the respondent’s 1-19(b)(3)(A), G.S., claim that the arrest warrant application is exempt, it is found that the respondent failed to prove that the identity of informants not otherwise known or the identity of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known, would be disclosed within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3)(A), G.S.

        14. With respect to the respondent’s 1-19(b)(3)(G), G.S. claim that the arrest warrant application is exempt, it is found that the respondent failed to prove that the arrest warrant application contains uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-20c, G.S., within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3)(G), G.S.

        15. It is also found that the very fact that the arrest warrant application was made by the respondent’s department suggests that allegations made were in some way corroborated by the respondent’s department.

        16. It is therefore concluded that the requested records are not exempt from disclosure and therefore, the respondent violated 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S., when he failed to provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records.

        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 the complainant with a copy of the requested records.

        2. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 18, 1998.

_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission

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:
Ethan Book
P.O. Box 1385
Fairfield, CT 06430

Chief of Police, Fairfield Police Department
c/o Eileen K. Wilcox
Assistant Town Attorney
Old Town Hall
611 Old Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06430

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-206/FD/tcg/02181998