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Final Decision FIC2011-323
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Edward Foster,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2011-323
Daryl K. Roberts, Chief, Police
Department, City of Hartford;
and Police Department, City of
Hartford,
     Respondents
April 25, 2012

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 9, 2011, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared 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.  It is found that, by email dated April 27, 2011, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with access to, and the ability to copy, or receive a copy of, I-File #10-010. 
3.  It is found that, by letter dated April 29, 2011, the respondents acknowledged receipt of the request described in paragraph 2, above, and informed the complainant that I-File #10-010 was an open file and would not be provided to him until it would be closed.
4.   By email, dated and filed May 20, 2011, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request, described in paragraph 2, above.   The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties in this matter.   
5.  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 …or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 
6.  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.”
7.  It is found that I-File #10-010 is an internal affairs investigation initiated by the complainant, who is an officer in the respondent department, via a July 13, 2010 complaint.  It is further found that, in response to such complaint, the respondents conducted a series of recorded interviews over several months, including a second interview with the complainant on March 31, 2011.   It is also found that, even after the filing of the complaint in this matter, further recorded interviews were conducted.
8.  It is found that I-File #10-010 was not written until October 28, 2011, and was not approved by superior officers until November 1, 2011, several months after the filing of the complaint in this matter.  It is further found that the respondents hand delivered a copy of I-File #10-010 to the complainant on November 2, 2011. 
9.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated that what he was most troubled about in this matter was the fact that the respondents have an open-ended policy when it comes to a time-frame for completing internal affairs reports such as I-File #10-010.  In this case, the complaint was filed in July 2010 and the resulting investigative report was not completed until November 2011.  However, the Commission has no authority to impose a mandatory time-frame on the respondents for the completion of any investigation.
10.  With respect to the request described in paragraph 2, above, it is found that the only records in existence at the time of such request were the underlying complaint and attachments which the complainant had provided to the respondents, and a number of recorded interviews.
11.  It is found that the respondents understood the request to be one for the written investigative report of I-File #10-010, which did not exist at the time.
12.  Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.
13.   The Commission advises the respondents, however, that better communication with public records requesters may avoid the necessity for hearings at the Commission.  Likewise, the Commission cautions the respondents that, in order to properly withhold records from requesters, a public agency must prove an exemption in the FOI Act, rather than merely claim that an investigation is an open file.
14.  Under the facts and circumstances of this case, there is no need 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 complaint is hereby dismissed. 
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 25, 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:
Edward Foster
50 Jennings Road
Hartford, CT  06120
and
43 Tiffany Road
East Hartford, CT  06108
Daryl K. Roberts, Chief, Police Department, City of Hartford; and
Police Department, City of Hartford
c/o Alexandra Deeb, Esq.
City of Hartford Corporation Counsel
550 Main Street
Room 303
Hartford, CT  06103
_______________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2011-323/FD/cac/4/25/2012