FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Gary S. Levine,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-190
Chief of Police, Police Department,
City of Norwich; Record and Service
Division, Police Department, City
of Norwich; and Police Department,
City of Norwich,
Respondents January 13, 1999


        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 1, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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(1), G.S.

        2. It is found that by letter dated June 19, 1998, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with a copy of:

a) the arrest file concerning his arrest in October 1996 for criminal trespass and resisting arrest, docket #CR-96-67500; and

b) the complaint he filed against the arresting officer and investigation file generated by the police department as a result of such complaint.

(hereinafter "requested records")

        3. It is found that by letter dated June 23, 1998 the respondents denied the complainant’s June 19, 1998 request claiming that the arrest report was exempt from disclosure and indicating that "the report may be released to you when and if the nollee period of thirteen months is allowed to expire by the court." The respondents June 23, 1998 letter did not address the complainant’s request for records concerning the complaint he filed against the arresting officer.

        4. It is found that by letter dated June 26, 1998 the complainant again requested the records described in paragraph 2, above.

        5. Having failed to receive a copy of the requested records the complainant, by letter dated July 3, 1998 and filed with the Commission on July 7, 1998, alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him a copy of the requested records.

        6. It is found that the respondents maintain records responsive to the complainant’s request, as described in paragraph 2, above, and such records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have a right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15. [Emphasis added.]

        8. With respect to the records requested and described in paragraph 2a, above, it is found that by letter dated August 28, 1998 the respondents provided the complainant with a copy of the incident report concerning his arrest. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents claimed that prior to August 28, 1998, they were of the mistaken belief that such incident report was exempt from disclosure.

        9. With respect to the records requested and described in paragraph 2b, above, it is found that the respondents have not provided the complainant with any records. At the hearing on this matter the respondents indicated that they will now check to determine whether their internal affairs department has any records concerning the complaint filed against the arresting officer.

        10. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents failed to prove that any federal law or state statute permitted them to withhold from the complainant all the records they maintain that are responsive to the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 2, above.

        11. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with a copy of all of the records maintained by them that are responsive to his request as described in paragraph 2, above.

        12. It is further found that a) the more than two month delay on the part of the respondents in providing the complainant a copy of the incident report and b) the respondents total lack of response to the complainant concerning the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 2b, above, were unreasonable and without justification.

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

        1. Forthwith, the respondent police chief shall ensure that the complainant is provided with a copy of all the records responsive to his requests, as described in paragraphs 2a and 2b of the findings, above, without charge.

        2. Forthwith, the respondent police chief shall provide the complainant with an affidavit attesting to the fact that all of the records ordered disclosed in paragraph 1 of the order, have been so provided to the complainant.

        3. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 13, 1999.

 

 

_________________________

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:

 

Gary S. Levine

108 Washington Street

Unit 201

Norwich, CT 06360

Chief of Police, Police Department,

City of Norwich; Record and Service

Division, Police Department, City

of Norwich; and Police Department,

City of Norwich

c/o Atty. Marc Mandell

71 East Town Street

Norwich, CT 06360

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-190FD/mrb01141999