FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2006-289|
Chief, Police Department,
City of Waterbury,
|Respondent||April 11, 2007|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 7, 2006, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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), G.S.
2. It is found that, by written request dated April 24, 2006, the complainant requested that the Waterbury Police Department provide him with a copy of records containing the following information:
a. “All established rules procedures/regulations with matters dealing with juveniles and minors, pertaining to: questioning, arrest, interrogations etc. with all procedures relating to the above;”
b. “All minority police officers (black/Hispanic in specific) identity and police numbers, that worked on the workforce for this department on the following dates 8/11/95, along with any records or complaints of these said officers, at any time;”
c. “All police procedure during 8/11/95 through 8/13/95, dealing with the bringing in of arrested individuals into the police station, in their patrol cars/police cars, with the logging in of such in the police station books along with the name of such procedure and books;”
d. “A copy of all police log-ins, from police officers who brought or transported arrested individuals or any individuals, into the police station in their patrol cars on the following date 8-13-95;”
e. “A copy of all dispatches of any and all police officers to any and all locations on 8-13-95, in the Waterbury area;”
f. “A copy of all police communications (or transcript or such) with all police communications with dispatches of the Waterbury police department, or by way of any other radio communications with the department on the following date 8-13-95;” and
g. “A copy of all information of orders, of police officer involvement in: All Waterbury police officer assisted arrest with other officers from other departments on the following date 8-13-95, along with any Waterbury police officers assist in the securing of any house grounds etc. on the following date 8-13-95, all in the Waterbury area on said date.”
(hereinafter “requested records”).
3. It is found that the complainant, by letter dated May 20, 2006 to the respondent, renewed his request described in paragraph 2, above.
4. It is found that, by letter dated June 1, 2006, and filed on June 7, 2006, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the requested records.
5. Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
6. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
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 … receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
7. Section 1-212(a), G.S., states in relevant part:
Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record. (emphasis added).
8. It is found that the respondent does not maintain or keep on file the records described in paragraph 2.f, above. Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with copies of such records.
9. It is found that the respondent maintains the records described in paragraph 2.a, 2.c, and 2.e, above., and it is therefore concluded that such records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
10. It is found that the respondent communicated the complainant’s request to Attorney James Weir of the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the City of Waterbury.
11. It is found that Attorney Weir acknowledged the complainant’s April 24, 2006 request by letter dated June 6, 2006.
12. It is found that, by cover letter dated October 18, 2006, the respondent, through Attorney Weir, provided the complainant with the records described in paragraph 2.a, 2.c, and 2.e, above, a total of one-hundred five pages, at no cost. It is also found that by such letter, the respondent informed the complainant that he did not maintain records responsive to paragraph 2.f, above, and requested that the complainant clarify the requests described in paragraph 2.b, 2.d, and 2.g, above, since the respondent was unsure which records the complainant was seeking by such requests.
13. It is found that some small portion of the delay between the complainant’s April 24, 2006 request and the respondent’s June 6, 2006 acknowledgement of that request may have been caused by back and forth correspondence between the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the City of Waterbury and the Waterbury Police Department.
14. It is also found that the respondent explained that the remainder of the delay between the complainant’s April 24, 2006 request and the provision of records delivered to the complainant on or about October 18, 2006 was a result of the large volume of requests that preceded the complainant’s request.
15. It is additionally found that the respondent offered no satisfactory explanation for the extended delay between the June 6, 2006 acknowledgement of the complainant’s request and the provision of records delivered to the complainant on or about October 18, 2006.
16. It is concluded that the respondent violated §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with copies of the requested records promptly.
17. With respect to the requested records not received by the complainant, the respondent claims that such requests are unclear and imprecise. It is found that the request for such records, as described in paragraph 2.b, 2.d., and 2.g, above, is unclear and imprecise. It is found that the respondent sought clarification from the complainant with respect to such request by cover letter dated October 18, 2006, described in paragraph 12, above.
18. It is found that, at the time of the hearing, the complainant had not provided any clarification to the respondent with respect to the portions of the requested records not received by the complainant, as described in paragraph 2.b, 2.d., and 2.g, above.
19. It is concluded that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by seeking clarification of the complainant’s unclear request, as described in paragraph 2.b, 2.d., and 2.g, above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness requirements of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
2. The Commission urges the complainant to respond to the respondent’s request for clarification as described in paragraph 12 of the findings, above.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 11, 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:
Chief, Police Department,
c/o Charles E. Oman III, Esq.
Office of Corporation Counsel
236 Grand Street
Waterbury, CT 06702
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission