FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Joseph A. Johnson, Jr.
|against||Docket #FIC 1997-422|
|Chief, Greenwich Police
Department, Town of Greenwich;
and Greenwich Police
Department, Town of Greenwich,
|Respondents||September 9, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 26, 1998, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. At the hearing on this matter, Silver Shield Association, Inc. requested, and was granted, intervenor status.
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(1), G.S.
2. By letter dated December 19, 1997, the complainants requested that the respondents provide them with a copy of the report of the Checkers International investigation of alleged wrongdoing within the Greenwich Police Department (hereinafter the report).
3. Having been denied the report, the complainants appealed to the Commission by letter dated December 29, 1997 and filed December 30, 1997, alleging that the respondents thereby violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
4. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that [e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records .
5. It is found that the report is a public record within the meaning of §1-19(a), G.S.
6. The respondents submitted the report, consisting of a preface, a chronicle of the investigation, and numerous exhibits, to the Commission for in-camera inspection, which records have been identified as in-camera document #s: 1997-422-preface; 1997- 422-chronicle; and 1997-422-exhibit-1-12, 12A, 13-17, 17A, 18-19, 19A-19G, 20-25, 25A-25D, 26, 26A-26T, 27, 27A-27M, 28-31, 31A-31B, 32, 32A-32U, 33, 33A-33J, 34- 36, 36A-36E, 37, 37A-37C, 38-39, 41-95, 97-105, 107-115, 118, AA, BB, CC, and DD. The respondents did not provide the following exhibits for in-camera review: 1997-422- exhibit-40, 96, 106, 116 and 117.
7. The respondents contend that the majority of the report is exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S., which in relevant part provides for the nondisclosure of personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.
8. The Supreme Court set forth the test for the §1-19(b)(2), G.S., exemption in Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158, 175 (1993). Specifically, 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.
9. It is found that the report is a similar file within the meaning of §1-19(b)(2), G.S. See Hartford v. Freedom of Information Commission, 201 Conn. 421, 433 (1986). It is further found that certain police employees objected in writing to disclosure of portions of the report, citing §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
10. It is also found, however, that the respondents failed to prove that disclosure of the requested records would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. Moreover, upon careful review of the in-camera documents described in paragraph 6, above, it is found that such records consist of matters related to the conduct of police officers. It is further found that that the public has a legitimate interest in the actions and integrity of its police personnel. Hartford v. Freedom of Information Commission, 201 Conn. 421, 433 (1986).
11. Therefore, it is concluded that the in-camera documents described in paragraph 6, above, are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(2), G.S.
12. The respondents also contend that §1-19(b)(3), G.S., exempts certain of the in-camera documents described in paragraph 6, above.
13. Section 1-19(b)(3), G.S., provides that various records shall be exempt from mandatory disclosure, including:
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, (C) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action, (D) investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public .
14. Upon careful review of the in-camera documents described in paragraph 6, above, it is found that, except as noted below, such documents were not compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of a crime. Rather, the report was commissioned by the respondent department to investigate allegations of certain internal improprieties. Thus, except as noted below, the report does not meet a required criterion of §1-19(b)(3), G.S. The respondents contend that, since the report has been forwarded to the State Police for review with respect to a possible criminal investigation, it should be considered as a record of a law enforcement agency compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime. However, it is found that such contention is without merit because the report was not compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime.
15. It is therefore concluded that, except as noted below, the report is not exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(3), G.S.
16. It is also found, however, that certain of the documents submitted for in- camera inspection were, at their creation, compiled by the respondent department in connection with the investigation or detection of crime. Such records therefore meet the compilation criterion of §1-19(b)(3), G.S., and are specified as follows: in-camera document #s 1997-422-exhibit-25A, 25B, 25C, 26O (2nd, 3rd, and 4th pages only), 97, 98, 99, 113, 114, and 115.
17. It is found that in-camera document # 1997-422-exhibit-113 identifies a confidential informant within the meaning of §1-19(b)(3)(A), G.S., and it is therefore concluded that such document is exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to that provision. Accordingly, the respondents did not violate §1-19(a), G.S., by denying the complainants a copy of in-camera document # 1997-422-exhibit-113.
18. It is found that in-camera document #s 1997-422-exhibit-25A, 25B, 25C, 26O (2nd, 3rd, and 4th pages only), 97, 98, 99, 114, and 115 were, at their creation, materials consisting of information to be used in then prospective law enforcement actions. However, it is also found that such documents are now several years old and that the respondents failed to prove that law enforcement actions arising from such documents are prospective at this time, or that disclosure of such documents would prejudice any such actions. Accordingly, §1-19(b)(3)(C), G.S., does not exempt such documents from mandatory disclosure.
19. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated §1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainants with a copy of the report, with the exception of in-camera document # 1997-422-exhibit-113.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainants with a copy of the report, with the exception of in-camera document # 1997-422-exhibit-113.
2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with requirements of the FOI Act.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 9, 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:
Joseph A. Johnson, Jr. and Greenwich Time 20 East Elm Street Greenwich, CT 06830
Chief, Greenwich Police Department, Town of Greenwich; and Greenwich Police Department, Town of Greenwich c/o Atty. Joyce H. Young Town of Greenwich Law Department 101 Field Point Road - P O Box 2540 Greenwich, CT 06836-2540
c/o Atty. John E. Meerbergen Bleakley, Platt & Schmidt 66 Field Point Road Greenwich, CT 06830
Silver Shield Association Inc. c/o Atty. Cary L. Fleisher 41 West Putnam Avenue Greenwich, CT 06830
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission