Final Decision FIC2011-437
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2011-437|
Jeffry W. Cossette, Chief,
Police Department, City of
Meriden; and Police
Department, City of Meriden,
May 23, 2012
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 18, 2012, at which times the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that, by letter dated July 21, 2011, the complainant requested from the respondents “copies of the following documents…related to email account “Teddy” – firstname.lastname@example.org
(a) any logs maintained by the Department listing who was using the account and when;
(b) tracking compliance regarding use of the Teddy email account;
(c ) policy within the department regarding use of police property for non-business related purposes (such as harassment of members of the community);
(d) policy of the Department of securing equipment from which Teddy emails were sent;
(e) the identity of the Department computer the emails were sent from;
(f) which Department member was signed onto that computer;
(g) who had access to the computer; and
(h) all of the emails associated with that account.
3. It is found that, by emails dated July 26 and 27, 2011, the respondents informed the complainant that no documents existed that were responsive to her requests numbered 2(a), (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g), above. With regard to the request described in paragraph 2(b), above, the respondents requested clarification of such request from the complainant, to which the complainant replied, via email: “It’s not hard…How did the Department monitor the use of the computer to ensure its use complied with Department policy?” It is also found that the respondents informed the complainant, in a June 26 email, that the city maintains the following policies: a Motor Vehicle Use Policy, a Computer Use Policy, and an Electronic Communications Policy. It is further found that, although the respondents believed such policies were not specifically responsive to the request described in paragraph 2(c), above, they provided copies of such policies to the complainant nevertheless. Finally, it is found that, in an email dated July 27, 2011, the complainant withdrew the request, described in paragraph 2(h), above. Such request shall not be further considered herein.
4. It is found that, by letter dated August 3, 2011, the complainant requested from the respondents “copies of…documents related to the IP address 126.96.36.199.”
5. It is found that, by email dated August 5, 2011, the respondents informed the complainant that there was one document—an email from the company that helped set up the website associated with that IP address—responsive to the request, described in paragraph 4, above, and provided such document to her.
6. By letter of complaint, dated and filed August 18, 2011, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by failing to comply with the requests for records described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.”
10. It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above, they are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
11. With regard to the requests, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above, it is found that the email account email@example.com
was set up by the respondents for use in undercover investigations of online sexual predators and prostitution. It is found that such account was deleted on May 16, 2011. It is further found that the IP address 188.8.131.52 is the address for the Meriden Police Department’s website, and is not associated with the firstname.lastname@example.org
12. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant initially testified that she received no response to the requests, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above. Upon cross examination, however, she admitted that the respondents had, in fact, responded to her requests, as described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above. According to the complainant, however, such responses “were not responses” because it was “inconceivable” to her that the respondents did not have records responsive to her requests. Although the complainant repeatedly stated her belief that the respondents were purposely being evasive and that they had gone “to great lengths to circumnavigate every mulberry bush in an attempt at obfuscation,” she offered no proof to support her claim.
13. At the hearing in this matter, the lieutenant responsible for overseeing the technology and information unit of the respondent police department testified, and it is found, that both he and counsel for the respondents spent a considerable amount of time researching the requests, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above, and searching for responsive records. Based upon the credible evidence presented by the respondents, it is found that no records exist that are responsive to the requests described in paragraphs 2 and 4 above, other than those that have already been provided to the complainant.
14. Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded 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 hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 23, 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:
11 Liberty Square #208
New Britain, CT 06051
Jeffry W. Cossette, Chief, Police Department,
City of Meriden; and Police Department,
City of Meriden
c/o Deborah L. Moore, Esq. and
John H. Gorman, Esq.
Office of the Corporation Council
City of Meriden
142 East Main Street, Suite 240
Meriden, CT 06450
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission