FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Edward Preece,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-493
Chief, Police Department, City of New Britain,  
  Respondent May 9, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 3, 2007, 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:

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

 

2.      It is found that by letter dated August 26, 2005, the complainant, through counsel, requested a copy of a statement given by a Mr. Chris Duffy, on August 22, 2005, regarding alleged threatening statements made by Fire Chief Mark Carr against the complainant.

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated August 29, 2005, the respondent denied the complainant’s request claiming that the requested records are exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G) and 1-216, G.S.

 

4.      It is found that by letter dated August 24, 2006, the complainant, through counsel, renewed his August 26, 2005 request and further requested a copy of any other statements or reports related to the investigation of the alleged threatening statements made by Fire Chief Mark Carr against the complainant.

 

5.      It is found that by letter dated August 25, 2006, the respondent denied the complainant’s request, again claiming that the requested records may not be disclosed pursuant to 1-216, G.S.

 

6.      By letter dated September 20, 2006, and filed on September 25, 2006, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his records request of August 24, 2006.

 

7.      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 . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

8.      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 . . . .”

 

9.      It is found that the respondent maintains the requested records and that such records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

10.   It is found that Mr. Duffy filed a complaint with the New Britain Police Department against Fire Chief Carr regarding certain alleged threatening statements that he claimed were made by the fire chief against the complainant.

 

11.   It is found that an investigation of the criminal complaint described in paragraph 10, above, was conducted, during which Mr. Duffy provided a statement to the New Britain Police Department.

 

12.   It is found, however, that Mr. Duffy was the only individual who heard the alleged threatening statements and that the New Britain Police Department determined that there was not sufficient evidence against the fire chief to take any action against him.

 

13.   At the hearing on this matter, the respondent argued that the allegations against the fire chief were not corroborated, and therefore, the requested records are exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G) and 1-216, G.S.

 

14.   Section 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S., provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall required the disclosure 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  . . . uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-216 . . .  

 

15.   Section 1-216, G.S., provides in relevant part that: 

 

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. 

 

16.   The respondent submitted the requested records to the Commission for in-camera inspection, which records have been identified as in-camera record #s 2006-493-001 through 2006-493-019.

 

17.   In contested case Docket #FIC 94-219, Rachel Gottlieb and The Hartford Courant v. State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police, (hereinafter "FIC 94-219") the Commission found that Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (1990), defines "corroborate" as "to strengthen, to add weight or credibility to a thing by additional and confirming facts or evidence." Ballentines Law Dictionary, Third Edition (1969) defines corroborate as "to state facts tending to produce confidence in the truth of a statement made by another." Funk & Wagnall New Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1946) defines corroborate as "to give increased support to; make more sure or evident."

 

18.   In Docket #FIC 94-219, the Commission found that "the reports contain similar accounts relayed to the respondent by different interviewees concerning the allegations under investigation". The Commission went on to find that "the requested reports contain allegations which were corroborated."

 

19.   In this case, it is found that the in-camera records contain no similar accounts of the alleged threatening statements by different individuals or any information that tends to strengthen, add weight or support the allegations made by Mr. Duffy.

 

20.   It is found that the in-camera records are records of a law enforcement agency not otherwise available to the public and that such records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3), G.S.

 

21.   It is found that the in-camera records contain uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.

 

22.   Consequently, it is found that disclosure of the in-camera records would result in the disclosure of uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.

 

23.   It is therefore concluded that the in-camera records are permissibly exempt from mandatory disclosure under 1-210(b)(3)(G) and 1-216, G.S., and further that the respondent did not violate the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by denying the complainant's request.

 

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.

 

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:

 

Edward Preece

c/o Dean B. Kilbourne, Esq.

Kilbourne & Tully, P.C.

120 Laurel Street

Bristol, CT 06010

 

Chief, Police Department,

City of New Britain

c/o Joseph E. Skelly, Jr., Esq.

New Britain Corporation Counsel

27 West Main Street

New Britain, CT 06051

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-493FD/paj/5/15/2007