FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2008-361|
Chief, Police Department, Town of East
Hartford; and Police Department, Town of
|Respondents||January 29, 2009|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 18, 2008, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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.).
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that by letter dated May 3, 2008, the complainant renewed his previous requests for “a copy of seven photographs which depict dog bites I received during my arrest.”
3. It is found that the respondents did not respond to the complainant’s May 3, 2008 request for records; however, it is found that in response to a previous request by the complainant for copies of the photographs, the respondents claimed that “no photographs were taken.”
4. By letter dated May 15, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the records he requested, described in paragraph 2, above.
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 receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.
6. 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 . . . .”
7. It is found that the complainant was arrested by officers for the respondents on June 22, 2006. It is found that one officer’s K-9 (canine) partner assisted in the arrest, biting the complainant at least twice.
8. It is found that seven photographs were taken of the complainant’s alleged injuries, and that such photographs were logged into the respondents’ Property and Evidence Unit on June 23, 2006, at 8:38 a.m.
9. It is found that the respondents’ General Order 242.00.81, concerning “Police K-9 Bites” directs that “all original photographs will be forwarded by the reporting supervisor with a copy of the case report to the Office of Professional Standards for potential future litigation needs.”
10. It is found that, despite the directive of General Order 242.00.81, the respondents’ Office of Professional Standards never received the photographs of the complainant’s K-9 bites.
11. It is found that at the time of the complainant’s arrest, Officer #133 of the respondent police department listed the seven photographs on court form JD-CR-18, titled “Inventory of Seized Property.” It is found, however, that the photographs were not seized from the complainant. It is also found that the photographs were not the type of property subject to forfeiture as nuisance, contraband or valuable asset at the close of a criminal prosecution.
12. It is found that on February 26, 2007, after the close of the criminal prosecution of the complainant, the respondents presented the “Inventory of Seized Property,” described in paragraph 11, above, to the judge in G.A. 12, with a request for authorization to destroy the photographs, which the respondents categorized as seized property that is a “nuisance, contraband or other property.”
13. It is found that the court granted the respondents’ request for destruction of the photographs on February 26, 2007. It is found that the respondents destroyed the photographs on March 14, 2007, pursuant to such court order. It is also found that the respondents made no copies of the photographs.
14. It is found that the respondents destroyed the records requested by the complainant, described in paragraph 2, above, well before his original request for copies of the photographs on February 11, 2008.
15. It is found that at the time of the complainant’s request for the photographs, the respondents no longer maintained such records.
16. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate §1-212(a), G.S.
17. The Commission, however, reminds the respondents that the photographs requested by the complainant in this matter were public records of the respondent, subject to the mandatory retention schedules established by state law.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 29, 2009.
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 Daly, #14102
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
1153 East Street South
Suffield, CT 06080
Chief, Police Department,
Town of East Hartford; and
Police Department, Town of East Hartford
c/o Anne M. Rajotte, Esq.
Karsten, Dorman & Tallberg, LLC
8 Lowell Road
West Hartford, CT 06119
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission