FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-029|
|Chief, Hartford Police
City of Hartford; Records Division,
Hartford Police Department, City of
Hartford; Hartford Police Department,
City of Hartford; and States Attorney,
Judicial District of Hartford,
|Respondents||July 22, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 16 and April 6, 1998, at which times the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. During the week of January 12, 1998 and again on January 29, 1998, the complainant requested verbally that the respondent police department provide him with a record of a given arrest, including a narrative of the incident that gave rise to the arrest.
3. By letter dated and filed with the Commission on January 30, 1998, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to provide him with a record of an arrest, including a narrative of the incident.
4. At the April 6, 1998 hearing, the respondent states attorney informed the Commission that the defendant in the criminal prosecution that resulted from the relevant arrest had plead guilty during the previous week to a reduced charge of breach of the peace.
5. As a result of the fact that a prospective law enforcement action was no longer pending, the respondent police department, at the April 6, 1998 hearing, provided the complainant with a copy of the relevant incident report, which included a narrative of the incident that gave rise to the arrest. The incident report was redacted so as not to disclose the name of the complainant who was also characterized in the report as the victim in an alleged sexual assault in the fourth degree.
6. At the April 6, 1998 hearing, the complainant did not take exception to the redaction, but did rejoin that he was receiving the incident report with a narrative in April 1998, when he should have received it in January 1998.
7. Section 1-20b, G.S., states:
(a) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes to the contrary, and except as otherwise provided in this section, any record of the arrest of any person, other than a juvenile, except a record erased pursuant to chapter 961a, shall be a public record from the time of such arrest and shall be disclosed in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15 and subsection (a) of section 1-19, except that disclosure of data or information other than that set forth in subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section shall be subject to the provisions of subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of section 1-19. Any personal possessions or effects found on a person at the time of such person's arrest shall not be disclosed unless such possessions or effects are relevant to the crime for which such person was arrested.(b) For the purposes of this section, "record of the arrest" means (1) the name and address of the person arrested, the date, time and place of the arrest and the offense for which the person was arrested, and (2) at least one of the following, designated by the law enforcement agency: the arrest report, incident report, news release or other similar report of the arrest of a person.
8. Section 1-19(b), G.S., provides that various records shall be exempt from mandatory disclosure, including:
(3) 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 (C) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action
9. It is found that the respondent police department, in response to the requests described at paragraph 2, above, furnished to the complainant, on the same day of his request, a criminal history of the defendant who was the subject of the relevant arrest. The criminal history included the name and address of the person arrested, the date, time and place of the relevant arrest and the offense for which the person was arrested. The criminal history also included the following additional information: the place of the alleged offenses, the identity of the arresting officers, the case number, and the bond amount.
10. It is found that the information included in the criminal history, as set forth at paragraph 9, above, could have easily been arranged into a narrative form that would have provided a description, narrative or comment concerning the arrest.
11. It is concluded that §1-20b(b)(2), G.S., must require the provision of some information beyond the items listed in §1-20b(b)(1), G.S., in order that the legislatures §1-20b(b)(2), G.S., language not be rendered meaningless. All four options listed in §1- 20b(b)(2), G.S., generally include in their common sense meaning a description, narrative or comment. Therefore, the additional information required by §1-20b(b)(2), G.S., beyond the items listed in §1-20b(b)(1), G.S., shall include information that could be included into a description, narrative or comment concerning the arrest similar to that normally found in arrest reports, incident reports, news releases or other similar reports, except that the additional §1-20b(b)(2), G.S., information need not include any information exempt under §1-19(b)(3), G.S.
12. It is concluded, based upon the findings at paragraphs 9 and 10, above, that the information included in the criminal history was functionally equivalent to a news release or other similar report of the arrest.
13. Consequently, it is concluded that, under the circumstances of this case, the provision of the criminal history by the respondent police department to the complainant satisfied the requirements of §1-20b(b)(2), G.S.
14. It is also therefore concluded that the respondent police department did not violate of the promptness requirements of §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 22, 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:
Kenneth Green 223 Granby Street Hartford, CT 06112
Chief, Hartford Police Department, City of Hartford; Records Division, Hartford Police Department, City of Hartford; and Hartford Police Department, City of Hartford c/o Atty. Ivan Ramos and Atty. Delroy A. Shirley 550 Main Street Hartford, CT 06106
States Attorney, Judicial District of Hartford c/o Atty. Timothy J. Sugrue CSAO 300 Corporate Place Rocky Hill, CT 06067
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission