FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Jose A. Ayuso,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-292

Chief, Police Department, City of Hartford;

and Police Department, City of Hartford,

 
  Respondents February 25, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 6, 2008, and December 19, 2008, at which times the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

2.  It is found that, by letter dated April 14, 2008, the complainant made a request to the respondents for a copy of “the Hartford Police Department Manual of policy and Procedures the rules and regulation” [sic].  The complainant also requested the following seventeen specific records relating to case No. 03-25694:

a)      Soft-body Armor ballistic Vest Care & Maintenance log;

b)     The report of the monthly inspection of issued vests of the following officers: Tishay Johnson, Victor Otero and Gerardo Pleasant, and of any damages or defects turned into the training officer and said log;

c)      All internal affairs’ reports concerning the discharging of said officers’ firearms involving case 03-25694;

d)      Firearms review panels’ investigative report;

e)      All officers’ weapons & ammunition maintenance report;

f)       HPD-FT1000: To crime analysis/evidence for firearm trace; Authorized Oath provided pursuant to C.G.S.;

g)      Form-82 Property attachment for handgun plastic bag;

h)      CCP-114 IN Rem Applic being turned into property room;

i)       HPD-52 Arrest Warrant Application;

j)       HPD-400 Supervisors’ crime log scene report; Property from forensic lab/ toxicology lab;

k)      HPD-401 vehicle canvass log report;

l)       CIR-Form, as property are found;

m)     HPD-403 major crime scene canvass/witness log;

n)      DPS-997-c form firearm recovered or seized;

o)      HPD-162 evidence examiner request;

p)      JD-CR-21 Uniform Arrest Report; and

q)      JD-CR-42 Advisement of rights of owner of seized property

3.  By letter of complaint dated April 23, 2008, and filed April 25, 2008, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by not complying with his request for records.  The complainant also requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.

 

4.  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.

 

5.  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 . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

6.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

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

 

7.  It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, such records are “public records”, pursuant to 1-200(5), G.S. 

8.  Administrative notice is hereby taken of the record in Docket #FIC 2008-064.

 

9.  At the December 19, 2008 hearing, the respondents testified that the Hartford Police Department Manual of Policy and Procedures consists of eight separate three ring binders. From this voluminous policy manual, the complainant was provided with sixty three relevant pages, which address firearms investigation. Concerning each of the seventeen specific requests set forth at paragraph 2, above, the respondents testified as follows:

a.       Soft-body Armor ballistic Vest Care & Maintenance log:

This document was not provided because it does not exist;

b.      The report of the monthly inspection of issued vests of the following officers: Tishay Johnson, Victor Otero and Gerardo Pleasant, and of any damages or defects turned in to the training officer and said log:

This document was not provided because it does not exist;

c.       All internal affairs’ reports concerning the discharging of said officers’ firearms involving case 03-25694:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on May 29, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064;

d.      Firearms review panels’ investigative report:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on May 29, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064;

e.       All officers’ weapons & ammunition maintenance report:

This document was not provided because it does not exist;

f.       HPD-FT1000: To crime analysis/evidence for firearm trace. Authorized Oath provided pursuant to C.G.S.:

The FT1000 is a trace report. A FT1000 Trace Report was not completed for the Glock semi-automatic pistol because the serial number was obliterated. A FT1000 Trace Report was completed for the second gun, a Harrington & Richardson revolver, because it had a serial number. The FT1000 Trace Report for the Harrington & Richardson revolver was not initially provided to the complainant because, for unknown reasons, it was never placed in the complainant’s original file. The results of the FT1000 trace report for the Harrington & Richardson revolver were provided to the complainant by Federal Express on December 19, 2008;

 

The Authorized Oath was not provided because it does not exist;

g.      Form-82 Property attachment for handgun plastic bag:

This document was not provided because it does not exist;

h.      CCP-114 IN Rem Applic being turned into property room:

This document was not provided because it does not exist;

i.        HPD-52 Arrest Warrant Application:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064;

j.        HPD-400 Supervisors’ crime log scene report. Property from forensic lab / toxicology lab:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064. This document was also mailed by respondents’ counsel on August 18, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in the present case;

k.      HPD-401 vehicle canvass log report:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064. This document was also mailed by respondents’ counsel on August 18, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in the present case;

l.        CIR-Form, as property are found:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064;

m.    HPD-403 major crime scene canvass/witness log:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064. This document was also mailed by respondents’ counsel on August 18, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in the present case;

n.      DPS-997-c form firearm recovered or seized:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064. This document was also mailed by respondents’ counsel on August 18, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in the present case;

o.      HPD-162 evidence examiner request:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064;

p.      JD-CR-21 Uniform Arrest Report:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064;

q.      JD-CR-42 Advisement of rights of owner of seized property:

This document was mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch, acting on behalf of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts, on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064.

 

10.   Based upon the testimony described at paragraph 9, above, it is found that the respondents provided many requested records on two separate occasions. It is also found that the records, assembled as one complete set, constituted a three inch binder. As indicated in paragraph 9, above, these records were transmitted to the complainant by U.S. mail (except for the results of the FT1000 trace report for the Harrington & Richardson revolver, discussed at subparagraph 9.f, above). It is further found that the respondents waived the copying fee for these records.

11.   It is also found the request in this case sought a voluminous amount of records, which required the respondents to search for records in different locations and review multiple files. As detailed at paragraph 9, above, there was considerable overlap between the request for records in Docket #FIC 2008-064 and the present case. It is further found that the respondents made a considerable effort to present the records to the complainant in an organized and comprehensive manner. 

12.   At the December 19, 2008 hearing, the complainant contended that he did not receive any of the requested records in this case. The Commission takes administrative notice that the Department of Correction screens and sometimes confiscates mail sent to inmates. Because the respondents have made sustained, intense efforts to provide records in this case and Docket #FIC 2008-064, any FOIA violations that the complainant wishes to allege against the Department of Correction should be handled in a separate docket.

  

13.   At the November 6, 2008 hearing, the hearing officer requested that the respondents contact the Office of the State’s Attorney, examine all of the documents in the State’s Attorney’s possession, and retrieve a copy of any document they discovered that was responsive to the complainant’s request. 

 

14.   At the December 19, 2008 hearing, the respondents represented that they spent four hours at the State’s Attorney’s Office and reviewed all of the records relevant to the complainant’s request, as set forth in paragraph 2, above.  After careful examination, the only documents found responsive to the complainant’s request were the JD-CR-21, Uniform Arrest Report, and the JD-CR-42, Advisement of Rights of Owner of Seized Property. As set forth at subparagraphs 9.p and q, above, both these documents have already been mailed to the complainant by Detective Ursula Wiebusch on April 9, 2008 in response to the complainant’s request in Docket #FIC 2008-064.

 

15.    It is further found that the respondents arrived at the December 19, 2008 hearing with a prepaid Federal Express overnight, envelope addressed to the complainant. As mentioned at paragraph 9.f, above, the respondents represented that it was their intention to immediately send the results of the FT1000 trace report for the Harrington & Richardson revolver to the complainant, free of charge. 

 

16.   It found that the respondents’ failure to provide the results of the FT1000 trace report for the Harrington & Richardson revolver to the complainant was unintentional, as explained at paragraph 9.f, above. 

 

17.   Therefore, it is concluded that the respondents’ response to the complainant’s request for records was “prompt” within the meaning of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

18.   The respondents also submitted an affidavit identifying the records that were provided to the complainant and attesting that any other record that was not provided to the complainant did not exist.

 

19.   Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents provided all the requested records in existence to the complainant at his Department of Corrections address, and that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S. There is no basis for the imposition of civil penalties in the present case.

 

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 February 25, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Jose A. Ayuso #156239 

MacDougall-Walker C I

1153 East Street, South

Suffield, CT 06080

 

Chief, Police Department, City of Hartford;

and Police Department, City of Hartford

C/o Andrew R. Crumbie, Esq.

Crumbie Law Group

1 Linden Place, Suite 106

Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-292FD/sw/3/4/2009