FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Mark H. Ciliano,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-350
Lawrence W. Gerrish, Chief,

Police Department, City of Groton;

and Police Department, City of Groton,

Respondents September 8, 1999

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 4, 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. By letter dated October 20, 1998, the complainant made a request to the mayor of the City of Groton for a complete copy of the police department’s morale survey (hereinafter "morale survey") conducted by Limitless Consulting Group (hereinafter "Limitless"), including any statistics and summary information.

        3. By letter dated October 21, 1998, the mayor responded to the complainant’s request informing him that the requested records are not maintained in her office and that because the morale survey was not conducted or approved by city government, he must direct his request to the police department to the attention of the chief.

        4. It is found that on October 21, 1998, the complainant faxed his request for the records described in paragraph 2, above, to the respondents.

        5. It is found that on October 24, 1998, the complainant received a copy of what he thought, at that time, was a complete copy of the morale survey.

        6. It is found that some time in November 1998, during a Groton City Council meeting, a portion of the morale survey was read aloud which was a portion the complainant discovered he did not have.

        7. By letter dated November 6, 1998 and filed on November 9, 1998, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by failing to provide a complete copy of the morale survey. The complainant also requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.

        8. Section 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 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, 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 the right . . . to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.

        9. Section 1-212(a), G.S. [formerly 1-15(a), G.S.], provides in relevant part that:

[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

        10. It is found that the requested morale survey is a public record within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.].

        11. It is found that the complainant received a copy of the two missing pages from the morale survey on or about December 3, 1998 and again on December 15, 1998.

        12. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant argued that although he eventually received a copy of the two missing pages, the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to promptly provide him with a complete copy of the morale survey.

        13. At the hearing on this matter the respondents claimed that the morale survey is information obtained by illegal means and that disclosure of the morale survey is not required pursuant to 1-210(b)(12), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(12), G.S.]. The respondents further argued that because disclosure of the morale survey is not required, there was no violation of the FOI Act in withholding any portion thereof, including the two pages withheld from the complainant.

        14. In support of their claim in paragraph 13, above, the respondents maintain that the morale survey was commissioned by the former police chief. The respondents further maintain that the contract with Limitless was not properly entered into pursuant to Groton City Ordinances; the information in the morale survey was therefore "obtained by illegal means"; and consequently they were not required to disclose the morale survey at all.

        15. It is found however, that even if the respondents’ claims in paragraph 14, above were true, which the Commission lacks jurisdiction to determine, the information contained in the morale survey was not "obtained by illegal means" within the meaning of 1-210(b)(12), G.S. Further, any claim of exemption from disclosure by the respondents is moot since the respondents have already disclosed the subject morale survey.

        16. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-210(a), G.S. and 1-212(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S. and 1-15(a), G.S., respectively] when they failed to promptly provide the complainant with a complete copy of the morale survey.

        17. Based upon the facts and circumstances in this case, the request for civil penalties is denied.

 

        On the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint, no order is recommended by the Commission.

 

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

September 8, 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:

 

Mark H. Ciliano
10 Triton Place
Groton, CT 06340
Lawrence W. Gerrish, Chief, Police Department, City of Groton; and Police Department, City of Groton
c/o Atty. Peter S. Gianacoplos
PO Box 942
Groton, CT 06340-0942
 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-350FD/mrb/09091999