OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Rene C. Benoit,
|Docket #FIC 2001-285|
Melvin Wearing, Chief,
August 22, 2001
above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 20, 2001, at
which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain
facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
The case caption was amended to correctly reflect the Police Chief’s
name as Melvin Wearing.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1),
It is found that the complainant attended a May 8, 2001 meeting of the
respondent commission (hereinafter “meeting”) and set up his camera with
the intention of videotaping the meeting.
It is found that one member of the respondent commission, commissioner
Streets, took issue with the complainant’s plan to videotape the meeting and
requested that the respondent chief ask the complainant not to videotape the
It is found that the respondent chief then asked the complainant to
remove his camera and to not videotape the meeting.
The complainant declined insisting that he had a right to videotape the
meeting. Thereafter, the
respondent chief had a detective remove the complainant’s camera from the
meeting room. The respondent
chief told the complainant he could remain in attendance at the meeting,
however, that he would not be permitted to videotape the meeting.
5. The complainant subsequently appealed to this Commission by letter dated and filed on June 5, 2001, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him the right to videotape the meeting. The complainant requested that a civil penalty be imposed upon the respondent chief.
6. Section 1-226(a), G.S.,
At any meeting of a public agency which is open to the public, pursuant to the provisions of section 1-225, proceedings of such public agency may be recorded, photographed, broadcast or recorded for broadcast, subject to such rules as such public agency may have prescribed prior to such meeting, by any person or by any newspaper, radio broadcasting company or television broadcasting company. Any recording, radio, television or photographic equipment may be so located within the meeting room as to permit the recording, broadcasting either by radio, or by television, or by both, or the photographing of the proceedings of such public agency. The photographer or broadcaster and its personnel, or the person recording the proceedings, shall be required to handle the photographing, broadcast or recording as inconspicuously as possible and in such manner as not to disturb the proceedings of the public agency. As used herein the term television shall include the transmission of visual and audible signals by cable.
(b) Any such public agency may adopt rules governing such recording, photography or the use of such broadcasting equipment for radio and television stations but, in the absence of the adoption of such rules and regulations by such public agency prior to the meeting, such recording, photography or the use of such radio and television equipment shall be permitted as provided in subsection (a).
The respondents contend that because the complainant had not requested
their permission prior to videotaping the meeting the respondent commission
was uncomfortable with the videotaping of such meeting.
The complainant on the other hand contends that he has a right to
videotape a public meeting.
It is found that pursuant to §1-226,
G.S., the complainant had a right to videotape the meeting, so long as he was
not disruptive of the meeting. It
is also found that the respondents failed to provide any evidence that the
complainant’s videotaping of the meeting would have in any way disrupted the
9. In the absence of evidence that the complainant’s videotaping of the meeting would have disturbed the meeting proceedings, it is concluded that the respondent commission wrongfully denied the complainant his right to videotape the meeting, and therefore violated §1-226, G.S.
10. The commission in its discretion declines to impose a civil penalty in this matter. At the hearing in this matter, the respondents indicated that they had never been presented with the issue of having the meetings of the respondent commission videotaped.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondent commission shall permit videotaping of its meetings in keeping with the requirements of §1-226, G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 22, 2001.
Dolores E. Tarnowski
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:
Haven, CT 06519
Melvin Wearing, Chief, Police Department,
City of New Haven; and Traffic/Police
Commission, City of New Haven
c/o Donna Chance Dowdie, Esq.
City of New Haven
165 Church Street, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 06510
Dolores E. Tarnowski
Clerk of the Commission