FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Luke Foster, Alexander Wood and

the Manchester Journal-Inquirer,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-083

Chief, Police Department,

City of East Hartford,

 
  Respondents  December 15, 2004
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 22, 2004, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

Subsequent to the hearing in this matter, the Hearing Officer in this matter- issued an order to submit to the Commission the record that is the subject of this case, for an in-camera inspection, which record was provided to the Commission on August 19, 2004.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1.  The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter dated January 21, 2004 addressed to the respondent, the complainants requested a copy of the tape recording of all “911” calls made the morning of December 13, 2003 concerning the murders of Ramona, Kayla and Alexis Kendall.

 

3.                  By letter dated February 3, 2004, the respondent denied the request on the ground that the State’s Attorney requested that such tape recording not be released due to the evidentiary value of the tapes and the ongoing criminal case.

 

4.  By letter dated February 16, 2004, and filed on February 19, 2004, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with their request for the requested tape recording.

 

5.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: 

 

[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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

6.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., in turn, 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 . . . .”

 

7.  Section 1-210(b)(3)(C), G.S., provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall require the disclosure of:

 

[r]ecords of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of . . . (C) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action . . . .

 

8.  It is found that the requested record consists of one TDK cassette audio tape of a “911” call made on December 13, 2003, from 46 Great Hill Road, East Hartford, Connecticut at 5:19 a.m. to the East Hartford Police Department.

 

9.  It is also found that, although the office of the State’s Attorney has a copy of the tape recording at issue, the respondent also maintains or keeps on file a copy of that recording and, accordingly, that recording constitutes a “public record” within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

10.  It is further found, however, that the homicides in question are still under investigation by the respondent and the office of the State’s Attorney’s.

 

            11.  It is further found, however, that parts of the requested record constitute a record of a law enforcement agency not otherwise available to the public which was compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of a crime, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3), G.S.

 

12.  It is also found that disclosure of the information described in paragraph 11, above, would be prejudicial to any prospective law enforcement action, within the meaning of 1-210-(b)(3)(C), G.S.

 

13.  It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by denying the complainants copies of those portions of the requested records which are not exempt from mandatory disclosure.

 

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

 

1.  The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainants with a copy of the tape recording more fully described in paragraph 8 of the findings above.  In complying with this order, the respondent may redact the following lines of the transcript of the subject tape recording:

 

page 1: everything after line 11;

page 4: everything after line 13;

page 5: everything except lines 1-11, inclusive; and

page 9: everything except lines 2-4, inclusive

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of December 15, 2004.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Luke Foster, Alexander Wood and

the Manchester Journal-Inquirer

306 Progress Drive

PO Box 510

Manchester, CT 06045

 

Chief, Police Department,

City of East Hartford

c/o Janis M. Small, Esq.

Corporation Counsel

Town of East Hartford

740 Main Street

East Hartford, CT 06108

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-083FD/paj/12/21/2004