FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2010-799|
Chief, Police Department, City of
Bridgeport; and Police Department,
City of Bridgeport,
|Respondents||September 28, 2011|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 30, 2011 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 December 14, 2010, the complainant made a request to the respondent police department for any and all documents related to him including but not limited to “police reports, filed statements, affidavits, bond bail statement[s], photos, fingerprints, seized items, and criminal [history] records.”
3. It is found that the complainant did not receive a response from the respondents.
4. By letter dated December 21, 2010, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his records request.
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:
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.
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 requested records, to the extent such records exist, are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
9. It is found that the respondents did receive the complainant’s request but failed to respond to it. It is found that counsel for the respondents represented that the respondents’ failure to respond was due to the overwhelming number of requests received by them and the complainant’s request may have been overlooked.
10. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents claimed that in order to search for any records related to an individual, the respondents need, not only the name and date of birth of an individual, but also the date(s) of arrest and the home address at the time of the arrest.
11. The respondents contended that because the complainant had failed to provide the necessary information in order for the search to be conducted, they were unable to comply with his request and therefore should not be found in violation of the disclosure provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
12. It is found, however, that the first time the complainant was apprised of this requirement was at the hearing in this matter and would have had no way of knowing that he had not provided sufficient information for the respondents to conduct a search for the requested records.
13. Furthermore, §1-206(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that
Any denial of the right to … copy records provided for under section 1-210 shall be made to the person requesting such right by the public agency official who has custody or control of the public record, in writing, within four business days of such request … Failure to comply with a request to so inspect or copy such public record within the applicable number of business days shall be deemed to be a denial.
14. It is found that the respondents failed to comply with the complainant’s request within four business days and therefore, it is concluded that the complainant’s request is deemed denied.
15. It is further concluded that the respondents were required to inform the complainant within four business days of his request that they were denying it because he failed to provide sufficient information for them to conduct the search for the records.
16. It is further concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated the FOI At as alleged in the complaint.
17. It is found that, at the hearing on this matter, the complainant provided the following dates and addresses to assist the respondents in the search for records responsive to his request:
Date of Arrest Home Address at the Time of Arrest
September 2006 25 Cowles Street, Bridgeport, CT
March 2008 25 Cowles Street, Bridgeport, CT
August 2009 91 Waterman Street, Bridgeport, CT
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, the respondents shall conduct a diligent search for the records, described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, using the additional information provided by the complainant, described in paragraph 17 of the findings, above. The respondents shall provide any records located to the complainant, free of charge.
2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of the FOI Act.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 28, 2011.
Cynthia A. Cannata
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:
Lawrence Moore #336067
Cheshire Correctional Institution
900 Highland Avenue
Cheshire, CT 06410
Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport; and
Police Department, City of Bridgeport
c/o Gregory M. Conte, Esq.
Office of the City Attorney
City of Bridgeport
999 Broad Street, 2nd Floor
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission