FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Scott Crawley,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-097

Chief, Police Department,

Town of Wethersfield,

 
  Respondent February 28, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 25, 2006, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The complainant, who is incarcerated, appeared via teleconference, pursuant to the January 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Department of Correction.  See Docket No. CV 03-0826293, Anthony Sinchak v. FOIC et al, Superior Court, J.D. of Hartford at Hartford, Corrected Order dated January 27, 2004 (Sheldon, J.).

 

 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)(A), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by application dated February 8, 2006 and by letter dated February 17, 2006, the complainant made a request and then a revised request to the respondent for various records, including: a) a “copy of the tape from police cruiser on 9-6-02 from the motor vehicle stop”; b) “your dept. procedure on investigation when receiving information from another police dept. [sic] any policy, rules or regulations that you may have”; and c) “procedures, policy or guidelines used when conducting surveillance” (subparagraphs a, b, and c being the “requested records” or the “records”).

 

3.  By letters to the complainant, dated February 13 and February 27, 2006, the respondent acknowledged the request, sought clarification of some requested items, and offered various records upon payment for copies. Pursuant to this process, a variety of records, comprising fifty-three pages in all, were provided to the complainant. Concerning the record described at paragraph 2a, above, the respondent stated in his February 27, 2006 letter that the Wethersfield Police Department “does not videotape traffic stops” and that the audiotapes “were destroyed after 35 days, in accordance with law.” Concerning the records described at paragraph 2b and c, above, the respondent declined to provide the records, also in his February 27, 2006 letter, claiming that these records were exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(D), G.S.

 

4.  By letter dated March 7, 2006, and filed with the Commission on March 10, 2006, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent’s failure to provide the requested records violated the Freedom of Information Act.

 

5.  Sections 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., state, respectively, in relevant parts:

 

Except 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, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

 

 

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

 

6.      Section 1-210(b), G.S., states in relevant part:

 

Nothing in the Freedom of Information Act shall be construed to require disclosure of:

 

….

 

(3) Records 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 … (D) investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public….

 

7.  It is found that the audiotapes described at paragraph 2a were destroyed after thirty-five days.

 

8. Concerning the records described at paragraph 2b and c, above, the respondent submitted thirty-two records for an in camera inspection.  Such records are hereby identified as IC-2006-097-1 through IC-2006-097-32, and have been individually reviewed by the hearing officer. 

 

 9.  Based on the in camera review, it is found that most of the records described at paragraph 2b and c constitute a general statement of standard operating procedures.  These basic administrative procedures do not constitute “investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public”. However, the following portions of the Wethersfield Police Department general order do contain “investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public”:

 

a)                           in IC-2006-097-2, the four words on the second line of paragraph I.B.3. that follow the words “manage a”; the last word in the first paragraph of section II.A.; all of the language in paragraph III.D. following the words “the DB Commander to”;

b)                          in IC-2006-097-3, the entirety of paragraph III.E; in paragraph IV.C., all of the language following the words “DB Commander will manage”;

c)                           in IC-2006-097-4, the balance of the page following the words “numerical designation representing” in paragraph V.A.2.;

d)                          in IC-2006-097-5, subsections j, k, and l of paragraph V.A.2;

e)                           in IC-2006-097-7, the second full sentence in paragraph V.A.3.d.;

f)                            in IC-2006-097-10, the last word in paragraph V.B.1.a.; the seventh sentence in paragraph V.B.1.b., beginning after the words “in private”;

g)                           in IC-2006-097-11, subsection 11 of paragraph V.B.1.c.; the balance of the sentence following the words “investigations of subjects,” at paragraph V.B.1.d.1.;

h)                           in IC-2006-097-12, subsections dd., hh., and ii. in paragraph V.B.1.d.2.; the balance of the sentence following the words “and cameras,” at paragraph V.B.1.e.;

i)                             in IC-2006-097-13, subsections 2 and 4 of paragraph V.B.2.c.; the second sentence of paragraph V.B.2.d.;

j)                            in IC-2006-097-14, the last sentence of paragraph V.B.3.c.;

k)                          in IC-2006-097-16, the third sentence of paragraph V.B.8.; the third sentence of paragraph V.B.8.a., which begins at the bottom of IC-2006-097-16;

l)                             in IC-2006-097-17, the balance of the third sentence of paragraph V.B.8.a., which ends at the top of IC-2006-097-17; and paragraph V.B.8.d.1;

m)                         in IC-2006-097-18, paragraph V.B.8.d.4; and, subsections aa, bb, cc, dd, and ee of paragraph V.B.8.e.3.;

n)                           in IC-2006-097-19, subsection ff of paragraph V.B.8.e.3; all of paragraph V.B.9.;

o)                          in IC-2006-097-20, 21, 22, and 23, the entirety of each page;

p)                          in IC-2006-097-28, all language in paragraph V.C.;

q)                          in IC-2006-097-29, the entirety of the page;

r)                            in IC-2006-097-30, all of the language to the beginning of paragraph V.D.; subsections a and b of paragraph V.D.1;

s)                           in IC-2006-097-31, subsections c and d of paragraph V.D.1; the second sentence of paragraph V.E.; and

t)                            in IC-2006-097-32, the five words following “[p]roviding for relief” in paragraph V.E.8; the balance of the phrase following the words “[s]upplying officers with” in paragraph V.E.9; 

 

10.  It is concluded that, because the audiotapes described at paragraph 2a no longer existed at the time the complainant requested them, the respondent did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., when he did not disclose these records to the complainant.       

 

11. It is concluded that the respondent maintains records described at paragraph 2b and c, above, and that such records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.   

 

12.  It is concluded that the portions of the records set forth in the findings at subsections a through t of paragraph 9, above, are exempt from mandatory public disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(D), G.S. 

 

13.  It is concluded that the respondent violated the requirements of 1-210(a), G.S., when he declined to provide to the complainant the records described at paragraph 2b and c, above, with redaction of the portions set forth at subsections a through t of paragraph 9, above.

 

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

 

            1.  The respondent shall forthwith provide the records described at paragraph 2b and c, above, to the complainant, without any copying charge, but with the redactions set forth at subsections a through t of paragraph 9, above.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 28, 2007.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Scott Crawley, #185605

Cheshire Correctional Institution

900 Highland Avenue

Cheshire, CT 06410

and

 MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution

1153 East Street South

Suffield, CT 06080

 

Chief, Police Department,

Town of Wethersfield

c/o John W. Bradley, Jr., Esq.

Rome McGuigan, PC

One State Street, 13th floor

Hartford, CT 06103

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-097FD/paj/3/6/2007