OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Ethan Book, Jr.,
|Docket #FIC 2002-454|
Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport,
|May 28, 2003|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested
case on January 9, 2003, at which time the complainant 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:
The respondent is a
public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1),
By letter dated and
filed on September 24, 2002, the complainant appealed to this Commission
alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”)
Act by failing to comply with his August 11, 2002 request for access to a
certain video tape.
Section 1-210(a), G.S.,
provides in relevant part that:
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.
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
. . . .”
It is found that, to
the extent the requested video tape exists and is maintained by the
respondent, it is a public record within the meaning of §1-210(a), G.S.
It is found that on
August 7, 2000, certain officers of the Bridgeport police department conducted
a drug surveillance of a building complex using a closed circuit camera.
A number of arrests and convictions were made allegedly based on the
video recording from the camera.
The complainant made
a request for the video tape at issue prior to his August 11, 2002 request and
received a response from the respondent dated August 2, 2002, which stated
that there was “no evidence [that] a video tape was turned in [to the
department] concerning file number 000707-027. . . The narcotics seized from
Carlton Whitehorn in this case were destroyed per court order on March 6,
By letter dated
August 3, 2002, the complainant informed the respondent that the owner of the
building complex “explicitly affirmed” that he turned the video recording
into the Bridgeport police department. The complainant requested that the respondent “review again
. . . the existence of the . . . video tape or [explain why] such an item of
important information does not exist.”
It is found that the
complainant’s August 11, 2002 letter, as referenced in
paragraphs 2 and 7, above, stated that the complainant “pointed out
that [the video tape] should be in the possession of the department and if it
is not, there should be a complete explanation as to why it is not in the
department’s possession,” and requested that the respondent “please
review and reply fully and promptly.”
It is found that
pursuant to Bridgeport police department policy, officers are required to
deliver evidence maintained by the department to its property room and record
such delivery in the property room’s log book.
Therefore, if the respondent maintained the video tape at issue, it
should be in the police department’s property room and there should be a
record of its delivery in the log book.
It is found that a
clerk in the respondent’s office reviewed the property room’s log book and
determined that the narcotics involved in the case were delivered to the
property room and destroyed pursuant to a court order; however the clerk found
no record that the video tape at issue was ever delivered to the property
At the hearing on
this matter the complainant argued that the respondent did not conduct a
thorough search for the video tape because the clerk failed to search other
areas in the department and failed to interview the officers involved in the
case regarding the whereabouts of the video tape at issue.
The complaint also alleged that the respondent’s response was not
timely and violated the FOI Act’s provisions regarding prompt compliance
with records requests.
It is found, however,
that based upon the facts and circumstance of this case, the respondent
conducted a reasonable and thorough search for the video tape at issue and
responded promptly within the meaning of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
on the forgoing, it is concluded that the complainant failed to prove that the
respondent maintains the video tape at issue.
It is therefore
concluded that the respondent did not violate §§1-210(a), or 1-212(a), G.S.,
as alleged by the complainant.
finding and conclusion in paragraphs 13 and 14, above, at the hearing on this
matter, the respondent’s counsel indicated that she would contact the
prosecutor’s office to determine if the video tape was delivered to that
office and if it was available for public inspection.
The respondent’s counsel also indicated that she would inform the
commission of any response she received from that office
The following order
by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning
the above-captioned complaint.
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
2. Notwithstanding paragraphs 13 and 14 of the findings, above, at the hearing on this matter, the respondent’s counsel indicated that she would contact the prosecutor’s office to determine if the video tape was delivered to that office and if it was available for public inspection. The respondent’s counsel also indicated that she would inform the commission of any response she received from that office. The commission appreciates this gesture and looks forward to receiving such information.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of
May 28, 2003.
Ann B. Gimmartino
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:
Ethan Book, Jr.
PO Box 1385
Fairfield, CT 06432
Chief, Police Department,
City of Bridgeport
c/o Melanie J. Howlett, Esq.
Assistant City Attorney
Office of the City Attorney
999 Broad Street, 2nd Floor
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Ann B. Gimmartino
Acting Clerk of the Commission