FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Andre Johnson,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-319

Chief, Police Department, City of

New Haven; and Police Department,

City of New Haven,

 
  Respondents March 11, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 5, 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.). 

 

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 18, 2008, the complainant made a request for a copy of all records and photographs in file #9925561.

 

3.      By letter dated May 8, 2008 (sic), and filed on May 6, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to respond to his request.

 

4.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

“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 . . . 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 the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

8.      At the hearing on this matter, the complainant explained that he made a broad request because he wanted to obtain all records maintained in file #9925561 but he was specifically seeking to obtain the full report of an Officer Patty Hamlin, all supplemental police reports, all search and arrest warrants, all photographs taken on April 26, 1999 by the respondent police department and the coroner’s office, and the written witness statement of a Toresto Young. 

 

9.      It is found that the respondent did not become aware of the complainant’s request until it received a copy of this Commission’s “Order to Show Cause” dated September 26, 2008.

 

10.   It is found that between September 26, 2008 and the date of the hearing on this matter, the complainant was provided with a redacted copy of the supplemental reports and the report of Officer Hamlin; however, page three of Officer Hamlin’s report was not included in the complainant’s copy.  It is found that the complainant did not receive a copy of any search or arrest warrants, any photographs, or a written witness statement of Toresto Young.

 

11.   With respect to the redactions, the respondents contended at the hearing on this matter that the information that was redacted is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(A), G.S.

 

12.   Section 1-210(b)(3)(A), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

Nothing in the Freedom of Information Act shall be construed to require disclosure of . . . [r]ecords 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 (A) the identity of informants not otherwise known or the identity of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known . . . .

 

13.   It is found that the information redacted from the records provided to the complainant are “the names of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known” within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(A), G.S.

 

14.   It is therefore concluded that the redacted information described in paragraph 12, above, is permissibly exempt pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(A), G.S., and that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act by providing the complainant with a redacted copy of the supplemental reports and of Officer Hamlin’s report.

 

15.   With respect to page 3 of Officer Hamlin’s report, it is found that page 3 was inadvertently omitted from the copy of the report that was provided to the complainant; however, at the hearing on this matter, the respondents indicated that they would provide the complainant with a complete copy of that report.

 

16.   With respect to the search and arrest warrants, it is found that it is not the practice of the respondents to maintain such records and that no such records were found in file #9925561.

 

17.   It is found, therefore, that the respondents do not maintain the search and arrest warrants the complainant is seeking and therefore, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with such records. 

 

18.   With respect to the photographs taken by the coroner’s office, it is found that the respondents do not maintain any such photographs and therefore, it is concluded that they did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with such records.

 

19.   With respect to the photographs taken by the respondent police department, it is found that they were provided to the State’s Attorney’s office during the prosecution of its case against the complainant and have since been archived by that office at an off-cite location.  At the hearing on this matter, the respondent indicated that the State’s Attorney’s office was in the process of retrieving the photographs but, as of the date of the hearing in this matter, had not forwarded them to the respondents.

 

20.   It is found that the respondents claimed no exemption to the disclosure of the photographs and indicated at the hearing on this matter that they will provide the complainant with a copy of the photographs, free of charge, once they receive a copy of them from the State’s Attorney’s office.

 

21.   With respect to the written witness statement of Toresto Young, it is found that two video tapes were located the day prior to the hearing on this matter.

 

22.   Notwithstanding the possibility that one of two video tapes may be a video recording of a statement made by a Toresto Young, it is found that the respondents do not maintain a written witness statement of such person. 

 

23.   It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of a written witness statement of Toresto Young.

 

Based on the facts and circumstances of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint, no order is recommended by the Commission.

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 11, 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:

 

Andre Johnson #273850

Cheshire C I

900 Highland Avenue

Cheshire, CT 06410

 

Chief, Police Department, City of

New Haven; and Police Department,

City of New Haven

C/o Kathleen M. Foster, Esq.

Office of the Corporation Counsel

165 Church Street, 4th Floor

New Haven, CT 06510

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-319FD/sw/3/17/2009