FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Ken and Bonnie Bickford,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-269

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Public Safety; and

State of Connecticut Department of

Public Safety,

 
  Respondents February 24, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 19, 2009 at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  At the hearing in this matter, Mr. James Brady, the subject of the records at issue in this appeal, requested and was granted party status.

 

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 the complainants contacted and complained to the Attorney General’s Office regarding their concern and belief that the respondent department’s internal affairs division may have inadequately conducted the investigation of a certain matter or may have engaged in a “cover-up.”

 

3.      It is found that the Attorney General’s Office informed the respondent department’s newly reconstituted internal affairs division (hereinafter “the IAD”) of the complainants’ concerns and complaints and facilitated an interview of the complainants by the IAD.  It is found that the IAD conducted an investigation of the complainants’ complaint that their son-in-law, a former police officer, had assaulted their daughter and that he provided false statements to the police that resulted in Mrs. Bickford’s arrest.

 

4.      It is found that after the conclusion of the investigation, the IAD issued a final report and by letter dated March 1, 2009, the complainants, through their attorney, made a request for a copy of that report.

 

5.      It is found that, by letter dated April 1, 2009, the respondents denied the complainants’ request stating that the report was not subject to mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(2), 1-210(b)(3)(G), 1-217, and 54-142a, G.S.

 

6.      By letter dated April 29, 2009 and filed on May 4, 2009, the complainants appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with their March 1, 2009 records request.

 

7.      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. 

8.      Section 1-210(a), G. S., provides 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 . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

9.      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.”

 

10.   It is found that the requested record is a public record within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

11.   Pursuant to the order of the Commission, dated August 26, 2009, the respondents submitted a copy of the report for in camera inspection which report has been identified as IC-2009-269-001 through IC-2009-269-172.

 

12.   With respect to the respondents’ contention that the report is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S., that section provides that nothing in the FOI Act shall require the 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 . . . uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-216.”

 

13.   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.

 

14.   It is found that, notwithstanding the fact that the IAD conducted the investigation, the charges under investigation were assault and false statements which are crimes under 53a-61 and 53a-157b, G.S.  It is also found that the respondents classified the investigation as an investigation of a crime. 

 

15.   It is found, therefore, that the in camera records that comprise the report were compiled in “connection” with the detection or investigation of crime, within the meaning 1-210(b)(3), G.S.

 

16.   The American Heritage Dictionary (2nd College Ed. 1976) defines “corroborate” to mean: "To support or confirm by new evidence; attest the truth or accuracy of.”

 

17.   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.”

 

18.   Black's Law Dictionary (5th Ed. 1979) defines "corroborate" to mean:

To strengthen; to add weight or credibility to a thing by additional and confirming facts or evidence. The testimony of a witness is said to be corroborated when it is shown to correspond with the representation of some other witnesses, or to comport with some facts otherwise known or established.

19.   It is found, after careful review of the in-camera records, that the investigation of the allegations made by the complainants, as described in paragraph 3, above, was thorough.

 

20.   It is also found, after careful review of the in-camera records, that such records contain no information that tend to strengthen, add weight or support the allegations made by the complainants.  It is found that the in camera records contain no new evidence that support or confirm the allegations made by the complainants or that attest to the truth or accuracy of the allegations.  

 

21.   It is found, therefore, that the in camera records contain uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to 1-216, G.S., within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.

 

22.   Based on the findings in paragraphs 15 and 21, above, it is also concluded that in camera records IC-2009-269-001 through IC-2009-269-172 are exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G) and 1-216, G.S.

 

23.   It is also concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by denying the complainants’ records request.

 

24.   Having concluded that in-camera records IC-2009-269-001 through IC-2009-269-172 are exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G), and 1-216, G.S., it is unnecessary to address the respondents’ other claims of exemption with respect to those records.

 

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 February 24, 2010.

 

____________________________

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:

 

Ken and Bonnie Bickford

C/o Steven T. Hartford, Esq.

Capalbo, Capalbo & Hartford

Attorneys At Law

67 High Street

Westerly, RI 02891

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Public Safety; and

State of Connecticut Department of

Public Safety

C/o Stephen R. Sarnoski, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT 06105

 

James Brady

C/o Department of Public Safety

1111 Country Club Road

Middletown, CT 06457

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2009-269FD/sw/3/1/2010