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Final Decision FIC2011-365
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Ira Alston,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2011-365
Chief, Police Department, City of
New Haven; and Police Department,
City of New Haven,
     Respondents
June 13, 2012

     The above-captioned matter was scheduled to be heard as a contested case on March 22, 2012, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, and the complainant stated that he could not proceed with the hearing because he did not have his “property” with him.  The hearing officer continued the hearing to April 19, 2012, at which time the complainant and the respondents again 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, 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 June 13, 2011, the complainant made a request to the respondents for copies of “handwritten police/detective notes,” related to a homicide investigation “with police case no. 99-76967.”
     3.  It is found that the respondents acknowledged the request, described in paragraph 2, above, indicating on a postcard received by the complainant sometime prior to July 6, 2011, that they were looking into his request.
     4.  By letter of complaint dated July 8, 2011, and filed on July 12, 2011, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the request described in paragraph 2, above.
     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 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 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, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     8.  It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, such records are public records. 
     9.  It is found that, by letter dated July 26, 2011, the respondents informed the complainant that they did not locate any records responsive to the request described in paragraph 2, above.
     10.  It is found that the complainant did not receive a copy of the July 26, 2011 letter, described in paragraph 9, above. 
     11.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated his belief that the respondents, in fact, have the records, described in paragraph 2, above, and speculated that they are located in the desk drawer of the detective assigned to investigate the homicide.
     12.  However, at the hearing in this matter, the police sergeant in charge of the records division testified that all of the detectives involved in the investigation of the homicide are now retired, and that she conducted a thorough search for the requested records in:  the property room, by case number; the records room, by case number; and in the detective bureau, to see if there were any working files related to this case in which any notes might be stored.  She further testified, and it is found, that her search did not turn up any of the records, described in paragraph 2, above. 
     13.  Based upon such testimony, it is found that the records, described in paragraph 2, above, to the extent that they ever existed, no longer exist.  
     14.  Accordingly, it is found that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in the complaint.
     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 June 13, 2012.

_________________________
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:
Ira Alston # 275666
Northern Correctional Institution
287 Bilton Road
Somers, CT  06071
Chief, Police Department,
City of New Haven; Police
Department, City of New Haven
c/o Kathleen Foster, Esq.
Assistant Corporation Counsel
City of New Haven
165 Church Street
New Haven, CT  06510
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2011-365/FD/cac/6/13/2012