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Final Decision FIC2014-488
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Torrey Townsend,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-488
Chief, Police Department, City of
City of New Haven; Police Department,
City of New Haven; and
City of New Haven,
     Respondents
June 10, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 23, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and stipulated to certain facts.  This matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2014-522, Torrey Townsend v. Chief, Police Department, City of New Haven et al.  A Report of Hearing Officer, dated April 30, 2014, is hereby withdrawn, and this Report of Hearing Officer is issued in lieu thereof.
     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 July 25, 2014, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with her requests for public records, up to and including her final request on July 7, 2014.
     3.  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.
     4.  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, (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.  (Emphasis supplied).
     5.  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.”
     6.  It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
     7.  At the hearing the parties stipulated, and it is found, that the complainant received all the records she requested, but there was a delay and her request was not responded to promptly. The reason for the lack of promptness was the lack of a policy with respect to indigent persons who are not inmates.  The New Haven Records Unit indigence policy only extended as far as inmates and the Public Defenders’ office, and it did not have a policy that addressed requests for records from indigent persons who were not inmates or clients of public defenders.  For that reason there was some time that elapsed prior to getting all the records to the complainant.  The New Haven Records Unit is in the process of developing a policy that will probably essentially be a federal poverty standard as demonstrated by a tax return.
     8.  It is concluded that the respondents violated the promptness provisions §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1.  Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 10, 2015.

__________________________
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:
Torrey Townsend
39 Orchard Place
New Haven, CT  06511
Chief, Police Department, City of City of New Haven;
Police Department, City of New Haven; and
City of New Haven
c/o Kathleen Foster, Esq.
Office of the Corporation Counsel
165 Church Street
New Haven, CT  06570
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2014-488/FD/cac/6/10/2015