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Final Decision FIC2014-033
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Mark Dumas and the Connecticut
State Police Union,
     Complainants
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-033
Dora Schriro, Commissioner,
State of Connecticut, Department of
Emergency Services and Public
Protection; Colonel Danny Stebbins,
State of Connecticut, Department of
Emergency Services and Public
Protection; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services
and Public Protection,
     Respondents
November 19, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 4, 2014, at which time the complainants 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 filed January 16, 2014, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide copies of public records.
     3.  It is found that the complainants made a request to the respondents on December 12, 2013 for copies of:
a. All records, including emails, regarding any allegations of workplace violence by Colonel Danny Stebbins; and
b. Any correspondence, including email, from, to, or carbon copying Commissioner Reuben Bradford, Colonel Danny Stebbins, or Bette Condon from Thursday, November 21, 2013 through December 12, 2013.
     4.  It is found that the respondents began providing emails responsive to the request on July 24, 2014, consisting of emails from Colonel Stebbins’ email account.
     5.  It is found that, as of the date of the hearing in this matter, the respondents continued to search the email accounts of Commissioner Reuben Bradford and Bette Condon, and had identified potentially responsive documents, but had not fully reviewed those documents or yet provided any to the complainants.
     6.  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.
     7.  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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 
     8.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:  “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     9.  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.
     10. The complainant maintains that the respondents did not provide records promptly within the meaning of §§1-210(a) or 1-212(a), G.S.
     11. The respondents contend that the volume of FOI requests processed by them, low staffing levels, and the necessity to review all records both for responsiveness and for many exemptions, are responsible for the seven-month delay in providing any records.
     12. It is found, however, that the factors cited by the respondents as delaying their response do not explain why no records at all could be provided for seven months.
     13. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated the promptness provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
     14. It is also found that the respondents maintain records other than emails that are responsive to the complainants’ request, but that no such records were provided.
     15. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide all records responsive to the complainants’ request.
     16. It is found that, as of the date of the hearing, the respondents were continuing to search for and review records responsive to the complainants’ request.
     17. Under the facts and circumstances of this case, the Commission in its discretion declines to consider the imposition of a civil penalty.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1.  The respondents shall continue to search for and review all records responsive to the complainants’ request, and provide copies of such records forthwith.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 19, 2014.
__________________________
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:
Mark Dumas and the Connecticut State Police Union
500 Main Street
East Hartford, CT  06118
Dora Schriro, Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services and Public
Protection; Colonel Danny Stebbins, State of
Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services
and Public Protection; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services
and Public Protection
c/o Neil Parille, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
State of Connecticut,
Office of the Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT  06105
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2014-033FD/cac/11/19/2014