FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Anthony Rizzolo,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-570

Lt. Francis Proudfoot, Police Department,

Town of Stratford; and Police

Department, Town of Stratford,

 
  Respondents April 28, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 11 and February 4, 2010, at which times 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), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letter dated September 17, 2009, the complainant requested “statistical information pertaining to traffic violations in the town of Stratford….The data I am requesting is as follows:  all vehicle/citations written that apply to the Connecticut Traffic Laws…for the past two years.  Of these infractions, how many were written specifically for a Motorcycle.”

 

3.  By email dated and received on September 24, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the request for records described in paragraph 2, above.

 

4.  It is found that, by letter dated September 28, 2009, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request, described in paragraph 2, above, but apparently misinterpreted such request as one for copies of the underlying police records.  It is found that, during a meeting between the complainant and the respondents prior to the hearing in this matter, and, at the hearing in this matter, the complainant clarified his request, stating that he was not seeking copies of the actual police records of arrests for traffic violations; rather, he was seeking a computer printout that would compare the total number of arrests/incidents for traffic violations to the number of such arrests/incidents that involved only motorcycles. 

 

            5.  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.

 

6.  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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

            7.   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.”

 

8.  It is found that the record the complainant seeks, as clarified in paragraph 4, above, is a public record and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., if such record exists, unless it is exempt from disclosure.

 

            9.  It is found that, when a ticket is issued, or an arrest is made, by the respondents for a traffic violation, an incident report is completed, and the information is entered into the respondents’ computer database.  It is found that, sometimes, but not always, information regarding whether the vehicle involved was an automobile or a motorcycle is also entered into the computer. 

 

            10.  It is found that the computer system maintained by the respondents with respect to its incident reports, described in paragraph 9, above, has limited search capabilities.  It is found that the system can be searched by incident report number, by name, or by violation type, but cannot be searched by key word. 

 

            11.  It is found that, in response to the complainant’s request, as clarified, the respondents conducted a search of its computer files for all incident reports for all violations of traffic laws and determined that there were 7,286 such records for the time period specified by the complainant.  It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with this statistical information, as requested, by letter dated December 9, 2009.  However, it is found that the respondents’ computer system cannot be directed to search for the term “motorcycle” in order to further filter the information to create a separate list of those incidents involving only motorcycles.  Moreover, because the type of vehicle is not consistently entered into the computer database, it is found that even if such a search could be conducted, the results would not be accurate in any event.

 

12.  Based upon the foregoing, it is found that the computer printout requested by the complainant, as described in paragraph 4, above, does not exist. 

 

13.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act in failing to provide the complainant with such record.

 

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 April 28, 2010.

 

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Anthony Rizzolo

145 Lordship Road

Stratford, CT 06615

 

Lt. Francis Proudfoot, Police Department,

Town of Stratford; and Police

Department, Town of Stratford

c/o Bryan L. LeClerc, Esq.

Berchem Moses & Devlin, P.C.

75 Broad Street

Milford, CT 06460

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-570FD/paj/5/3/2010