FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael Thibault,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-344

Chief, Police Department,

City of New London,

 
  Respondent May 9, 2007
       

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 16, 2006, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The respondent submitted the requested records, as described in paragraph 7 of the findings, below, for in camera inspection.

 

            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 June 5, 2006, the complainant requested that the respondent provide all records in connection with an investigation that occurred following a criminal complaint by Cross Sound Ferry against the complainant.

 

3.  By letter of complaint postmarked July 5, 2006, and supplemented on August 4, 2006, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide the requested records.

 

4.  It is found that, by letter dated July 27, 2006, the respondent replied to the complainant that it could not provide the records, on the grounds that the records consisted of signed statements of witnesses and uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction.

 

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 that:

 

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.

 

            7.  It is found that the respondent located nine pages of records responsive to the complainant’s request.  The records were submitted for in camera inspection, and consist of a two-page computer printout, a two-page incident report, a one-page witness statement, a one-page narrative report, a one-page property report, and two photographs. 

            8.  It is found that the records described in paragraph 7, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

           

9.  The respondent maintains that the witness statement is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S., which provides that disclosure is not required of:

 

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 …   … (B) signed statements of witnesses….”

 

10.  It is found, however, that the witness statement is not signed.

 

11.  It is concluded that the witness statement is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S.

 

12.  The respondent also maintains that all of the records described in paragraph 7, above, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S., which provides that disclosure is not required of:

 

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 …  (G) uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-216 ….

 

13. In turn, 1-216, G.S., provides:

 

Except for records the retention of which is otherwise controlled by law or regulation, records of law enforcement agencies consisting of uncorroborated allegations that an individual has engaged in criminal activity shall be reviewed by the law enforcement agency one year after the creation of such records.  If the existence of the alleged criminal activity cannot be corroborated within ninety days of the commencement of such review, the law enforcement agency shall destroy such records. 

 

14.  The respondent contends that since he determined that there was no probable cause to support the claim of harassment against the complainant, the allegations made against the complainant were uncorroborated.

 

15.  The American Heritage Dictionary (2nd College Ed. 1976) defines corroborate to mean: “To support or confirm by new evidence; attest the truth or accuracy of.”

 

16.  Black’s Law Dictionary (5th Ed. 1979) defines “corroborate” to mean:

 

To strengthen; to add weight or credibility to a thing by additional and confirming facts or evidence.  The testimony of a witness is said to be corroborated when it is shown to correspond with the representation of some other witnesses, or to comport with some facts otherwise known or established.

 

17.  It is found that the complaining witness’s statement is corroborated by the representations of another individual who came to the New London Police Department with the complaining witness, by conversations reported to have occurred between the complainant Thibault and other law enforcement personnel, and by the two photographs described in paragraph 7, above.

 

18.  It is concluded that, while the respondent determined that there was a lack of probable cause to support a claim of criminal harassment, there was nonetheless corroboration of the factual allegations made against the complainant Thibault.

 

19.  It is concluded that the requested records are not permissibly exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.

 

20.  It is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-210(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with access to the records described in paragraph 7 of the findings, 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 complainant a copy of the records described in paragraph 7, above.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 9, 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:

 

Michael Thibault

10 Wilson Avenue

Quaker Hill, CT 06375

 

Chief, Police Department,

City of New London

c/o Brian K. Estep, Esq.

Conway & Londregan, PC

38 Huntington Street

PO Box 1351

New London, CT 06320-1351

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-344FD/paj/5/15/2007