FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Lamberto Lucarelli,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-631

Chief, Police Department, Town of

Old Saybrook; and Police Department,

Town of Old Saybrook,

 
  Respondents July 22, 2009
       

  

The above-captioned matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2008-701; Lamberto Lucarelli v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Old Saybrook; Police Department, Town of Old Saybrook; and Town Counsel, Town of Old Saybrook. Both matters were heard as contested cases on April 14, 2009, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared 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.  The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1)(A), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letters dated August 18, 2008 and September 23, 2008, addressed to the Police Department, Town of Old Saybrook, the complainant requested all records which concerned the complainant and which had not previously been provided to him in response to his earlier requests, excepting only records that the complainant himself submitted to the respondent Police Department (the “requested records”).

 

3.  By letter dated September 24, 2008 and filed with the Freedom of Information Commission (“FOIC” or sometimes the “Commission”) on September 25, 2008, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents failed to provide the requested records in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).

 

4.  It is found that by letter dated October 2, 2008, the Town Counsel, on behalf of the respondents, provided the complainant with two photographs and further stated that the photographs were the “only additional materials which you have referenced in your letters which you do not yet have….”

 

5.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., states in relevant part:

 

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 (emphasis added). 

 

6.  Section 1-212, G.S., states in relevant part:

 

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

 

7.  It is concluded that the requested records described in paragraph 2, above, are “public records” within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.  

 

8.   The meaning of the word “promptly” is a particularly fact-based question that has been previously addressed by the FOI Commission.  In Advisory Opinion #51, In the Matter of a Request for Declaratory Ruling, Third Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, Applicant (Notice of Final Decision dated January 11, 1982) the Commission advised that the word “promptly” as used in 1-210(a), G.S., means quickly and without undue delay, taking into consideration all of the factors presented by a particular request.  The Commission also gave the following guidance:

 

The Commission believes that timely access to public records by persons seeking them is a fundamental right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act.  Providing such access is therefore as much a part of their mission as their other major functions.  Although each agency must determine its own set of priorities in dealing with its responsibilities within its limited resources, providing access to public records should be considered as one such priority.  Thus, it should take precedence over routine work that has no immediate or pressing deadline.

 

9.  The advisory opinion goes on to describe some of the factors that should be considered in weighing a request for records against other priorities:  the volume of records requested; the time and personnel required to comply with a request; the time by which the person requesting records needs them; the time constraints under which the agency must complete its other work; the importance of the records to the requester, if ascertainable; and the importance to the public of completing the other agency business without the loss of the personnel time involved in complying with the request.           

 

10.  Based upon the finding that the requested records were only two photographs, and that these photographs were only provided to the complainant after he filed a complaint with the FOIC, it is concluded that the six week period between the initial request and the provision of the records constituted a failure to provide the records “promptly” in violation of 1-212(a), G.S.      

 

             The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1.  Henceforth, the respondents shall provide non-exempt requested records promptly.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 22, 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:

 

Lamberto Lucarelli

21 Howard Street

Old Saybrook, CT 06475

 

Chief, Police Department, Town of

Old Saybrook; and Police Department,

Town of Old Saybrook

c/o Michael E. Cronin, Jr., Esq.

201 Main Street

Old Saybrook, CT 06475

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-631FD/paj/7/27/2009