FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Sophia Phoenix,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-279
Office of the Mayor, City of New
Haven; and Internal Affairs Division,
Police Department, City of New Haven,
Respondents June 30, 1999

         The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 23, 1999 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 1-200(1), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.).

        2. It is found that by letter dated September 14, 1998, and filed September 15, 1998, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying her access to:

a. certain police reports concerning a May 7, 1998 incident; and

b. tapes of recorded conversations.

        3. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2a, above, at the hearing on this matter the complainant indicated that she no longer wished to pursue this issue as a part of her complaint. Consequently, the only remaining issue to be addressed in this complaint concerns the complainant’s allegation described in paragraph 2b, above.

        4. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2b, above, it is found that by letter dated September 11, 1998, the complainant requested that the respondent internal affairs division provide her with the tapes of conversations between herself and New Haven police department ("police department") personnel that occurred on twelve dates during the period of November 1997 through September 1998.

        5. It is found that the police department’s records division, which physically maintains the twenty-four hour police department communications tapes, reviewed such tapes on February 22, 1999, and at the hearing on this matter provided the complainant with approximately twenty-eight minutes of taped conversations, responsive to a portion of her request.

        6. It is found that certain taped conversations were not provided to the complainant and do not exist at the present time. It is found that the original tapes containing such conversations were reused by the police department in keeping with its understanding of the state’s public records retention/disposal schedule.

        7. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents conceded that one of the requested tapes, not provided to the complainant (the one for September 5, 1998), should not have been reused because the complainant’s September 11, 1998 request predated such reuse. This Commission however, has no jurisdiction to determine whether the police department’s reuse of all of the tapes at issue was in keeping with the requirements of the state’s public records retention/disposal schedule. Inquiry pertaining to such issue is appropriately directed to the office of the Public Records Administrator.

        8. It is found however, that the respondent internal affairs division, to whom the complainant’s request was directed did not properly coordinate with the police department’s records division which keeps the tapes, to ensure that the complainant’s request was promptly dealt with. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents indicated to the Commission that they have recently received FOI training and believe that future requests will be handled in a more appropriate manner.

        9. It is concluded that the respondent internal affairs division failed to promptly provide the complainant with a copy of the tapes in existence at the time of her request, and therefore, violated 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.), and 1-212(a), G.S., (formerly 1-15(a), G.S.).

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

        1. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the disclosure requirements of 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.), and 1-212(a), G.S., (formerly 1-15(a), G.S.).

 

         Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of

June 30, 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:

 

Sophia Phoenix
65 Fountain Street #D
New Haven, CT 06515
Office of the Mayor,
City of New Haven;
and Internal Affairs Division,
Police Department,
City of New Haven
c/o Atty. Thayer Baldwin Jr.
Office of the Corporation Counsel
165 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510
 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-279FD/mrb/07011999