FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Colin Poitras and The Hartford
Courant,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-085
Chief, Portland Police Department,
Town of Portland; and Portland Police
Department, Town of Portland,
Respondents August 12, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 4, 1998, at 
which time the complainants 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.   By letter dated March 27, 1998, the complainants requested that the 
respondents provide them with access to all emergency dispatch tapes related to the 
March 22, 1998, death of Andrew McClain at Elmcrest Hospital.  
	3.   On March 28, 1998, the respondents informed the complainants that their 
request was denied since the tapes at issue were part of an ongoing investigation. 
	4.   By letter dated and filed on April 3, 1998, the complainant appealed to the 
Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) 
Act by declining to provide access to the requested records.  
	5.   It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 
1-18a(5), G.S. and 1-19(a), G.S.
	6.   Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state 
statute, all records maintained…by any public agency…shall 
be public records and every person shall have the right to 
inspect such records promptly during regular office…hours 
or to receive a copy of such records….
	7.   The respondents contend that 1-19(b)(3)(C), G.S., provides a basis to 
withhold the requested records.  Specifically, that statute provides that the following 
records shall be exempt from mandatory disclosure:
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….
	8.   It is found that the records described in paragraph 2, above, consist of three 
audio tapes, one of which is a tape of a 911 telephone call, the other two of which are 
tapes of the dispatches of emergency personnel to the scene.  It is further found that such 
records are records of a law enforcement agency within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3)(C), 
G.S. 
	9.   It is found that, as of the date of the hearing in this matter, the respondent 
department, the State’s Attorney, and the Connecticut State Police were in the process of 
investigating the death of Andrew McClain. It is further found that the records described 
in paragraph 2, above, were compiled in connection with such investigation and that the 
State’s Attorney, as the chief official responsible for investigating crime in the state, 
contends that premature release of any case file information may prejudice a future 
prosecution.  It is further found that the request described in paragraph 2, above, was 
made very early in the investigation described herein, and that the potential for prejudice 
to future prosecution is difficult to gauge at such an early point.  However, it is found that 
the respondents’ contention in such regard is not unreasonable under the facts and 
circumstances of this case.
	10.  It is found that the information contained in the requested records constitutes 
information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action and that disclosure of such 
information could be prejudicial to such action.
	11.  It is concluded, therefore, that 1-19(b)(3)(C), G.S., provides a basis to 
withhold the requested records and that the respondents did not violate 1-19(a), G.S., by 
denying the complainants access thereto. 
	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.  
	2.  Certainly, it is easy to claim that release of any part of an investigative file 
would prejudice a future prosecution.  The respondents are cautioned that blanket claims 
of prejudice to future law enforcement prosecutions are unlikely to prevail in every case 
brought before the Commission.  However, the facts and circumstances of this case make 
it reasonable to give the respondents the benefit of the doubt.  


	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of August 12, 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:
Colin Poitras and The Hartford Courant
c/o Bill Sweeney
The Hartford Courant
373 E. Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Chief, Portland Police Department, Town of Portland; and Portland Police Department, 
Town of Portland
c/o Atty. Jean M. D’Aquila
Halloran & Sage LLP
One Goodwin Square
225 Asylum Street
Hartford, CT 06103

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1998-085/FD/tcg/08181998