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Final Decision FIC2011-353
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Lee B. Smith,
Docket #FIC 2011-353
Chief, Police Department, City of
Middletown; and Police Department,
City of Middletown,
May 9, 2012

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 8, 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, on or about May 22, 2011, and several times thereafter, the complainant verbally requested from the respondents a copy of a police incident report identified as #11-11601 (report).  It is found that the respondents verbally denied the plaintiff’s request on the ground that the case was “still pending.”  It is found that on June 21 and June 22, 2011, the complainant made written requests for the report. 
3.  It is found that, on June 29, 2011, the respondents denied, in part, the complainant’s written requests for the report, on the ground that, although the case was no longer pending, the report contained uncorroborated allegations of criminal activity that are exempt from disclosure.  It is found that, in their June 29th letter, the respondents informed the complainant that he could pick up a redacted copy of the report from the Records Division during regular business hours, and that the fee for such copies would be $3.50.  It is found that the complainant picked up a redacted copy of the report on July 1, 2011.     
4.  By letter of complaint, dated July 4, 2011 and filed July 7, 2011, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by redacting certain information contained in the report, 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 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.    The respondents claim that certain portions of the report consist of uncorroborated allegations of criminal activity and that therefore, such portions are exempt from disclosure, pursuant to §1-210(b)(3), G.S.   At the hearing in this matter, the hearing officer ordered the respondents to submit the report for an in camera inspection.
9.  On December 1, 2011, the respondents submitted the report for an in camera inspection.  It is found that such report consists of a police incident report, totaling six pages.
10.  Section 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S., provides, 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 . . . .
11.  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.

12.  It is found that, although the in camera records, described in paragraph 2, above, are records of a law enforcement agency, not otherwise available to the public, it is further found that such records were not compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime.  Thus, it is found that such records are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.

13.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents violated the FOI Act by redacting the information from the in camera records.
 The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
 1.  The respondents shall, forthwith, provide the complainant with an unredacted copy of the report, free of charge.
 2.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 9, 2012.
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Lee B. Smith
17 Afton Terrace
Middletown, CT  06457
Chief, Police Department, City of
Middletown; and Police Department,
City of Middletown
c/o Timothy P. Lynch, Esq.
Acting City Attorney
245 DeKoven Drive
Middletown, CT  06457
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission