FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|John C. Rettman,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1997-330|
Internal Affairs Division;
and Paul Rowen
|Respondents||May 13, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 22, 1998 and March 20, 1998, at which times the complainant and the respondents appeared, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The caption has been corrected and restated to conform with the granting of party status to Paul Rowen as a respondent.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent Meriden Police Department, Internal Affairs Division (the respondent police department) is a public agency within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated October 6, 1997, the complainant requested of the respondent police department access to all records with respect to respondent Rowen, including but not limited to complaints filed against respondent Rowen and any action taken resulting in adverse or other disciplinary measures against respondent Rowen (the Rowen records).
3. On October 6, 1997, the respondent police department notified respondent Rowan that a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the Rowan records had been received, and on October 10, 1997, respondent Rowen submitted an objection to disclosure to the respondent police department.
4. Thereafter, by an undated letter, the respondent police department denied the complainant access to the Rowen records.
5. By letter dated October 16, 1997 and filed on October 20, 1997, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent police department violated the FOI Act by denying the complainant his right to inspect the Rowen records.
6. Following the January 22, 1998 hearing, on February 4, 1998, the respondent police department submitted the Rowen records, together with the required index and a transmittal letter, to the Commission for an in camera inspection. The respondent police department indicated, on the index and in the letter, records concerning which it considers exemptions applicable and also records concerning which it has no objection to disclosure.
7. Respondent Rowen did not avail himself of the two week opportunity afforded by the Commission, after receiving a set of the in camera records, to file a more specific statement concerning his objections to disclosure, and therefore, his initial comprehensive objection to disclosing any of the Rowan records remains in effect.
8. Following the March 20, 1998 hearing, on March 23, 1998, the respondent police department filed a letter with the Commission on behalf of both respondents, offering to make newly discovered tapes in the custody of the respondent police department, which include Officer Rowens voice relative to internal affairs complaints, available to the complainant for listening and making copies.
9. The respondent police department contends that certain of the Rowan records and certain information on other Rowan records (specifically, social security numbers, date of birth, marital status and tax exemptions) are exempt as personnel or medical files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy, pursuant to §1- 19(b)(2), G.S., and that certain other records are exempt to the extent that said records contain the residential address of a sworn member of a municipal police department, pursuant to §1-20(f), G.S.
10. It is found that the Rowan records are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
11. Section 1-19(b)(2), G.S., exempts from mandatory public disclosure personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy."
12. In Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158, 175 (1993), the Supreme Court set forth the test for the exemption contained in §1-19(b)(2), G.S. The claimant must first establish that the files in question are personnel, medical or similar files. Second, the claimant must show that disclosure of the records would constitute an invasion of personal privacy. In determining whether disclosure would constitute an invasion of personal privacy, the claimant must establish both of two elements: first, that the information sought does not pertain to legitimate matters of public concern, and second, that such information is highly offensive to a reasonable person.
13. It is found that all of the Rowan records examined in camera constitute personnel or medical and similar files, pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
14. It is also found that twelve records examined in camera, records numbered 65 and 76 in the file from the personnel department, records numbered 4, 7, 17, 18, 36, 41, 42, 49, 60, and 63 in the workers compensation file from the respondent police department, are medical records containing information that does not pertain to matters of legitimate public concern and would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. It is therefore concluded that disclosure of these twelve records would constitute an invasion of personal privacy pursuant to the Perkins case, above, and such records are therefore exempt from mandatory public disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
15. It is found that, with the exception of the twelve medical records identified in paragraph 14, above, all of the remaining Rowan records examined in camera pertain to legitimate matters of public concern. While some of these records have a personal quality and may be embarassing to respondent Rowen, these personal qualities are legitimate matters of public concern in the context of a police officer who is, of course, authorized to carry, and in certain circumstances, to utilize a firearm. It is therefore concluded that the disclosure of such remaining Rowen records would not constitute an invasion of personal privacy pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
16. It is concluded that that pursuant to §1-20(f), G.S. certain records are exempt to the extent that said records contain the residential address of a sworn member of a municipal police department, and that such information may be redacted from any record on which it appears.
17. It is concluded that, pursuant to Commission precedent, social security numbers, date of birth, marital status and tax exemptions are exempt from mandatory disclosure, and that such information may be redacted from any record on which it appears.
18. It is concluded that, pursuant to Commission precedent, and with reference to the records described in paragraph 1 of the February 4, 1998 transmittal letter (the income information), the column of net dollar amounts on each page of said records are exempt from mandatory disclosure, and that such information may be redacted from any record on which it appears. Based upon the same Commission precedent of not disclosing individual deductions from a gross salary or other aspects of purely personal finance, records 3, 47, 52, 53, and 71 through 75 in the file from the Personnel Department are also exempt from mandatory disclosure and boxes 2, 3 and 4 may be redacted on record 43 from the Personnel Department.
19. It is finally concluded that, with the exception of the records specifically identified as exempt in paragraphs 14 and 18, above, and the redactions specifically identified as exempt in paragraphs 16, 17, and 18, above, the action of the respondent police department denying the complainant access to the Rowan records was a denial of [a] right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act, as that term is utilized in §1-21i, G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent police department shall forthwith permit the complainant, his designee, or any other person to inspect the Rowan records, with the exception of the records specifically identified as exempt in paragraphs 14 and 18, above, and with the redactions specifically identified as exempt in paragraphs 16, 17, and 18, above.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 13, 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:
John C. Rettman 185 Fairway Drive Meriden, CT 06450
Meriden Police Department, Internal Affairs Division c/o Atty. Christopher P. Hankins Deputy City Attorney City of Meriden 142 Main Street Meriden, CT 06450-8022
Paul Rowen Patrolman #314 Meriden Police Department 50 West Main Street Meriden, CT 06451
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission