FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Robin Elliott,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-320
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction; and State of
Connecticut, Department of Correction,
 
  Respondents April 27, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 3, 2011, at which time the complainant and 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 on May 3, 2010, the complainant requested records concerning the respondents’ Special Operations Group (“SOG”).

 

3.      By letter of complaint filed May 17, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of records. 

 

4.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” as follows:

 

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, …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:

 

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 the provisions of section 1-212.

 

6.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:  “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”

 

7.      It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

8.      It is found that on May 10, 2010, the respondents acknowledged receipt of the complainant’s May 3, 2010 request, and informed the complainant that they were reviewing the request.

 

9.      It is found that on January 20, 2011, the respondents provided some records to the complainant in compliance with part of his request for records relating to the SOG.

 

10.   The respondents claimed that 1-210(b)(18), G.S., exempts certain records responsive to the complainant’s request.

 

11.   Section 1-210(b)(18), G.S., exempts from mandatory disclosure:

 

Records, the disclosure of which the Commissioner of Correction, or as it applies to Whiting Forensic Division facilities of the Connecticut Valley Hospital, the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services, has reasonable grounds to believe may result in a safety risk, including the risk of harm to any person or the risk of an escape from, or a disorder in, a correctional institution or facility under the supervision of the Department of Correction or Whiting Forensic Division facilities. Such records shall include, but are not limited to:

(A)  Security manuals, including emergency plans contained or referred to in such security manuals;

(B)  Engineering and architectural drawings of correctional institutions or facilities or Whiting Forensic Division facilities;

(C)  Operational specifications of security systems utilized by the Department of Correction at any correctional institution or facility or Whiting Forensic Division facilities, except that a general description of any such security system and the cost and quality of such system may be disclosed;

(D)  Training manuals prepared for correctional institutions and facilities or Whiting Forensic Division facilities that describe, in any manner, security procedures, emergency plans or security equipment;

(E)  Internal security audits of correctional institutions and facilities or Whiting Forensic Division facilities;

(F)  Minutes or recordings of staff meetings of the Department of Correction or Whiting Forensic Division facilities, or portions of such minutes or recordings, that contain or reveal information relating to security or other records otherwise exempt from disclosure under this subdivision;

(G)  Logs or other documents that contain information on the movement or assignment of inmates or staff at correctional institutions or facilities; and

(H)  Records that contain information on contacts between inmates, as defined in section 18-84, and law enforcement officers;

12.    It is found that the SOG is an emergency response unit of the respondents.  It is found that the records that the respondents claim are exempt contain information about the routes of transport of high-risk inmates to court or the hospital, the steps the SOG team takes to secure a facility (such as a court or a hospital), the number of staff assigned to the unit, the circumstances that trigger an alert or a mobilization, the chain of command of the team, and the team’s training.

 

13.   It is found that the records are part of the respondents’ emergency plans for hostage situations and the use of lethal force.

 

14.   It is found that the respondents do not make such records available to anyone other than SOG members and that such records are considered “secure” within the respondents’ institutions.

 

15.   It is found that the commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that disclosure of the records at issue may result in a safety risk, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(18), G.S.  Accordingly, it is further found that such records are exempt from mandatory disclosure.

 

16.   It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by failing to disclose such records to the complainant.

 

 

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 27, 2011.

 

 

 

__________________________

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:

 

Robin Elliott, #24941

Northern Correctional Institution

287 Bilton Road

PO Box 665

Somers, CT 06071

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and State of

Connecticut, Department of Correction

c/o Nicole Anker, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-320/FD/paj/4/28/2011