FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Janice D'Arcy and
The Hartford Courant,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-094
Chief, Meriden Police Department,
City of Meriden and Meriden Police Department,
City of Meriden,
Respondents October 14, 1998

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 22, 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, Richard Persico requested and was granted party 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 April 2, 1998, the complainants requested from the respondent
chief copies of the respondent department's internal investigation and any other related
documents regarding Ms. Tanya Dingle's allegations against a Meriden police officer.

     3. By letter of complaint dated and filed April 6, 1998, the complainants appealed
to the Commission alleging that the respondents had failed to comply with their request
and asking the Commission to order the disclosure of the requested records.

     4. Thereafter, by letter dated April 8, 1998, the respondents informed the
complainants that the requested records would not be provided because they contain
uncorroborated allegations of criminal misconduct and disclosure would violate the
subject officer's right to privacy.

     5. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of
1 - 18a(5) and 1-l9(a), G.S.

     6. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents and intervenor claimed that the
requested records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to both 1-l9(b)(2) and
1-l9(b)(3)(G), G.S.

     7. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides in relevant part, that "any person applying in
writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public
record."

     8. However, 1-l9(b)(2), G.S., does not require the disclosure of "personnel or
medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of
personal privacy."

     9. 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-l9(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.

     10. It is found that the records that are responsive to the complainants' request are
contained in an internal affairs investigation file, which investigation had been completed
at the time of the complainants' request. The respondent chief submitted the subject file to
the Commission for in camera inspection on June 22, 1998.

     11. It is found that the subject records submitted for in camera inspection
constitute personnel or similar files within the meaning of 1 -l 9(b)(2), G.S., and consist
of thirty-seven pages, the pages numbered by the Commission as in camera document #s
1998-094-1 through 1998-094-37, inclusive.

     12. It is found that in camera document #s 1998-94-1 through 1998-094-27
consist of records of a two-part investigation conducted by the respondent department
into allegations by a prostitute that the subject police officer had an improper sexual
relationship with her. The first part of the investigation took place in 1995 and the
allegations were found to be substantiated; the second part of the investigation took place
in 1997 and the allegations were found not to be substantiated.

     13. It is found that with the exception of those records identified in paragraph 14,
below, the information contained in camera document #s 1998-94-1 through
1998-094-27, inclusive, pertains to a legitimate matter of public concern because the
public has a significant interest and concern in knowing about the conduct of police
personnel, even off-duty conduct, that reflects upon their suitability for the kind of public
employment that requires a significant amount of public trust; and whether and how allegations of the nature at issue in this case, which were potentially criminal, are handled
by the police department investigating them. Hartford v. Freedom of Information
Commission
, 201 Conn. 421, 435 (1986).

     14. It is found however that disclosure of certain small portions of in camera
document #s 1998-94-1 through 1999-094-27, inclusive, that explicitly describe, through
slang terminology or otherwise, the sexual contact alleged, do not pertain to a legitimate
matter of public concern. It is further found that the disclosure of such information at this
time, including the identity of the subject police officer, would also be highly offensive to
a reasonable person.

     15. It is therefore concluded that those portions of the subject records described in
paragraph 14, above, including the identity of the subject police officer, are exempt from
disclosure pursuant to 1-l9(b)(2), G.S.

     16. It is found that in camera document #s 1998-94-28 through 1998-094-37,
inclusive, generally consist of letters from the complainants and others requesting access
to the subject records, responses from the respondent department and its attorney to the
requesters, a letter to the subject police officer concerning his right to object to disclosure
and that officer's objection to disclosure of the subject records. Because it is found that
the identity of the subject police officer no longer relates to a matter of legitimate public
concern and its disclosure at this time would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, it
is therefore concluded that those records described above which identify the subject
police officer in camera document #s 1998-94-28 through 1998-094-37 are exempt from
disclosure pursuant to 1-l9(b)(2), G.S.

     17. Section 1-l9(b)(3)(G), 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 . .. (G)
uncorroborated allegations [that a person has engaged in criminal
activity]subject to destruction pursuant to 1-20c...."

     18. It is found that the respondents and intervenor failed to prove that the subject
records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime or that
the records contain uncorroborated allegations of criminal activity within the meaning of
1-l9(b)(3)(G), G.S., since by their own statements at the hearing on this matter, the
investigation was handled as an administrative or personnel matter and was not treated as
a criminal investigation.

     19. It is therefore concluded that the respondents failed to prove the application of
1l9(b)(3)(G), G.S., to the subject file.

     20. It is further concluded that the subject file, with the exception of those
portions of the records described in paragraphs 14 and 16, above, are not exempt from,
and are subject to, disclosure pursuant to 1 -15(a) and 1 -l 9(a), G.S., and that the
respondents' decision not to provide the complainants with copies of the remaining
portions of the subject file constituted a "denial of [a] right conferred by the Freedom of
Information Act," within the meaning of 1-21i, G.S.

     21. The respondents chief and police department also claimed at the hearing on
this matter, that the subject file contains the names of, and comments about, two other
individuals, who were not connected with the subject internal affairs investigation, which
information should not be disclosed.

     23. It is found that in camera document #1998-094-24 contains the names of, and
comments concerning, two individuals, other than the subject police officer, who were
not in any way linked to the subject internal affairs investigation and who are not the
subject of the complainants' request. Therefore, the Commission declines to order the
disclosure of such information.

     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

     1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainants with a copy of the
records contained in the subject file, with the exception of those portions of in camera
document #s 1998-094-1 through 1998-094-37, inclusive, described in paragraph 14, and
in paragraph 16 with respect to the identity of the subject police officer, of the findings,
above.

     2. In complying with paragraph 1 of the order above, the respondent may also
redact the names of, and all personally identifiable information with respect to, two other
individuals who are referenced in camera document #1998-094-24 but were not part of,
or in any way related to, the subject internal affairs investigation.

     Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of
October 14, 1998.

_________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
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:

Janice D'Arcy and
The Hartford Courant,
c/o Attn: Bill Sweeney
285 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06115

Chief, Meriden Police Department,
City of Meriden and Meriden
Police Department, City of Meriden,
c/o Atty. Christopher P. Hankins
Deputy City Attorney
City of Meriden, Dept. of Law
142 East Main Street
Meriden, CT 06450-8022

Richard Persico
c/o Atty. John R. Donovan
Donovan & Morello, LLP
154 West Street, Bldg. 3
P.O. Box 206
Cromwell, CT 06416

__________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission


FIC1998-094FD/mrb10151998