FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2010-744|
Chief, Police Department, City of
Hartford; and Police Department, City of
|Respondents||October 12, 2011|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 13, 2011, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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. By letter of complaint, sent via email on November 29, 2010 and received on November 30, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying the complainant access to the requested records described in paragraph 3, below. In his complaint, the complainant requested that “the maximum civil penalties be assessed against both [Detective Ursula Wiebusch] and [Assistant Chief Brian Heavren].”
3. It is found that, by email dated November 23, 2010, the complainant requested to review the following:
a. Any and all documents, including investigative reports, emails, and related correspondence pertaining to investigations of Angel Morales related to possible sexual assault allegations for the period 2000 to 2003. Please include any arrest warrant applications as well as any communications from the Court regarding said warrant applications (the “requested records”).
4. It is found that, by email with attached letter dated November 29, 2010, the respondent chief replied to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 3, above, by stating “that there are no documents that may be produced in accordance with Section 1-216 of the FOIA.”
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 records described in paragraph 3, above, are public records within the meaning of §1-200(5), G.S., and therefore must be disclosed in accordance with §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure.
9. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents contended that the requested records contain uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of §1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.
10. After the hearing on this matter and at the hearing officer’s request, the respondents submitted the requested records for an in camera inspection. Such in camera records consist of 14 pages, which have been designated IC#2010-744-1 through IC#2010-744-14, that include an incident report, signed witness statement, an application for an arrest warrant, and supplemental documents compiled during the criminal investigation.
11. It is found that the in camera records were compiled as a result of a criminal investigation into allegations of a 1999 sexual assault crime involving Angel Morales, which was initially investigated by Officer McCrorey of the Hartford police department.
12. On the index to records submitted for in camera inspection, the respondents claim that all of the in camera records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §§1-210(b)(3)(G), and 1-216, G.S.
13. With respect to the respondents’ claim that the in camera records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S., such provision states, in relevant part, that nothing in the FOI Act shall require the disclosure of:
Records 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 . . . .
14. In turn, §1-216, G.S., provides:
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.
15. After careful review of the in camera records, it is found that such records are records of a law enforcement agency, not otherwise available to the public, which were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, within the meaning §1-210(b)(3), G.S.
16. Based upon careful review of the in camera records, it is found that such records contain uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of §1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.
17. Consequently, it is found that disclosure of the in camera records would result in the disclosure of uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of §1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.
18. It is therefore concluded that the in camera records are permissibly exempt from disclosure under §§1-210(b)(3)(G) and 1-216, G.S., and, further, that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by denying the complainant’s request.
19. Accordingly, there are no grounds for a civil penalty in this matter.
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 October 12, 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:
120 Sigourney Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Somers, CT 06071
Chief, Police Department, City of Hartford; and
Police Department, City of Hartford
c/o Henri Alexandre, Esq.
Crumbie Law Group
280 Trumbull Street,
Hartford, CT 06103
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission