OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Dolan and The Hartford
|Docket #FIC 2001-086|
of the Chief State’s Attorney,
|December 12, 2001|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested
case on March 22, 2001, at which time the complainants and the respondent
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. Pursuant to §1-201, G.S., the respondent is a public agency with respect to its administrative functions within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that, by letter dated January 9, 2001, the complainants asked the respondent for an electronic copy of the database of reports filed by police in compliance with an ongoing racial profiling study.
3. It is found that, by
letter dated January 16, 2001, the respondent denied the request described in
paragraph 2, above. Nevertheless, it is also found that, on January 24, 2001, the
respondent provided the complainants with a copy of a CD-ROM containing the
racial profiling data from January 1, 2000 through June 30, 2000, which data had
thus far been reviewed and compiled by the respondent, in the form of an “Interim
Report of Traffic Stop Statistics”.
4. It is found that, by
letter dated January 25, 2001, the complainants thanked the respondent for the
CD-ROM described in paragraph 3, above, but renewed their request for all data
maintained by the respondent, including data for the last six months of 2000.
5. By letter dated and filed on February 13, 2001, the complainants appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information [hereinafter “FOI”] Act by denying their request for an up-to-date copy of the CD-ROM containing racial profiling data [hereinafter “the July to December records”], and by failing to include certain information in the CD-ROM provided as described in paragraph 3, above, including the towns where the drivers were stopped, the time of the stop, the statute under which a citation was issued, and event number assigned to the incident by police.
6. Section 1-211(a), G.S., provides in pertinent part, that:
[a]ny public agency which maintains public records in a computer storage system shall provide, to any person making a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of any nonexempt data contained in such records, properly identified, on paper, disk, tape or any other electronic storage device or medium requested by the person, if the agency can reasonably make such copy or have such copy made. Except as otherwise provided by state statute, the cost for providing a copy of such data shall be in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.
Section 1-212(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.”
The respondent contends that the Commission lacks jurisdiction in this
matter, asserting that the requested records do not relate to the administrative
functions of the office of the
chief state’s attorney, within the meaning of §1-201,
Public Act 99-198 [hereinafter “the Act”] defines “racial
profiling,” as “the detention, interdiction or other disparate treatment of
an individual solely on the basis of the racial or ethnic status of such
individual,” and prohibits police officers from engaging in such activity.
The Act also mandates:
a) that the respondent, in conjunction with the commissioner of public safety, the attorney general, the chief court administrator, the police officer standards and training council, the Connecticut police chiefs association, and the Connecticut coalition of police and correctional officers, develop and promulgate:
i) a form in printed and electronic format, to be used by police
officers when making traffic stops to record personally identifying information,
including characteristics of race, color, ethnicity and age, based on the police
officers’ observations, the nature of the alleged violation, the number of
persons stopped, whether a warning or citation was issued, whether an arrest was
made or search was conducted, the location and reason for the stop, and any
additional information deemed appropriate by the municipal police departments or
the department of public safety;
ii) a form in printed and electronic format to be used to report
complaints of persons who believe that they have been subjected to racial
b) that, commencing January 1, 2000, each municipal police department, and the department of public safety, must complete the forms described in paragraph 9.a.i., above, for all traffic stops and provide copies of such forms to the respondent; and
c) that the respondent, within the limits of existing appropriations, provide for a review of the prevalence and disposition of traffic stops and complaints reported to him as described in paragraph 9.b., above, and, not later than January 1, 2002, report to the Governor and General Assembly the results of any such review, including any recommendations.
10. It is found that there were over 630,000 stops in Connecticut in the year 2000, and that approximately 35,000 to 65,000 occurred monthly. Is further found that the interim report described in paragraph 3, above, was prepared by the respondent in an effort to provide early information to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the public, about data on racial profiling, and that such early report was not required by the Act.
11. It is found that, in order to fulfill its role under the Act, the respondent has attempted to work cooperatively with local and state police departments and to collect reports on a monthly basis, although the respondent has no authority to order such departments to comply on a monthly basis.
12. It is found that the process for compiling the data is as follows:
a. for the most part, the police departments file reports on a
monthly basis with the office of the respondent, which
logs in those reports and converts any paper reports to an electronic format;
b. after assembling the reports, the respondent sends such data to DOIT, where it is stored on the DOIT mainframe for approximately
one month and then stored on the DOIT server;
c. an Office of Policy and Management [hereinafter “OPM”] staff member is responsible for validating the data by checking the number
of reports received versus the number each police department states that it sent; and by seeing that the fields are completed correctly.
Incorrect or incomplete entries require communication between the OPM staff member and the reporting police department, renewed
submissions and further validation.
It is found that neither the OPM staff member described in paragraph
12, above, nor the respondent, has access to the mainframe or server of DOIT.
14. It is found that the
respondent’s function under the Act, and as demonstrated by the duties being performed as described in
paragraphs 9 through 12, above, is clerical and administrative in
nature. Accordingly, it is
concluded that the respondent’s functions under the Act constitute “administrative
functions”, within the meaning of §1-201,
G.S., and that therefore the Commission has jurisdiction in this matter.
15. It is found that, at the time of the requests described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above, the respondent had not received all July to December records from the various police departments, and that many such records that had been received had not been validated. It is further found that, at the time of the hearing in this matter, all such records still had not been received and validated. At the hearing in this matter, the respondent pledged to provide the complainants with the requested records upon completion of the validation process, which event was expected to occur within a matter of weeks of the hearing in this matter.
16. At the hearing in this matter, the complainants nevertheless contended that they should have been provided with the July to December “invalidated” records upon request, and that certain data was withheld from the report received as described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above.
17. However, with respect to the report described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above, it is found that the respondent provided the complainants with all requested records that it kept on file or maintained in electronic form at such time. Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, it is further found that the respondent could not have reasonably made a copy of the July to December records or have had such copy made, within the meaning of §1-211(a), G.S., because it did not have all July to December data at the time of the complainant’s request.
18. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.
following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the
record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
The complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 12, 2001.
Petrea A. Jones
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:
Office of the Chief State's Attorney,
State of Connecticut , Division of
c/o Judith Rossi, Esq.
Executive Assistant State's Attorney
300 Corporate Place
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission