Final Decision FIC2012-360
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2012-360|
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services and
Public Protection, Division of State Police;
and State of Connecticut, Department of
Emergency Services and Public Protection,
Division of State Police,
January 23, 2013
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 7, 2012, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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 June 4, 2012, the complainant requested “information related to all DUI arrests made by the State Police Troop L in May of 2012.”
3. It is found that the respondents did not reply to the complainant’s request by July 1, 2012.
4. By letter postmarked July 2, 2012, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with the records he requested.
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, …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:
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…
7. 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.”
8. It is concluded that the records requested by the complainants are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
9. It is found that on August 17, 2012, one week after receiving notice from the Commission of the complainant’s appeal, the respondents provided 15 pages of records to the complainant, and requested payment of the statutory fee. It is found that the records provided to the complainant were electronic arrest summaries of the people arrested by Troop L for DUI during May, 2012.
10. It is found that on September 13, 2012, the complainant sent a letter to the respondents in which he enclosed payment and informed the respondents that he believed compliance to be incomplete in that they failed to provide a report of each DUI arrest in May. It is found that the complainant enclosed a screen shot printed from the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website containing arraignment information on a person arrested for DUI in May by Troop L. It is found that the respondents did not include records concerning such person in the records they provided to the complainant on August 17, 2012.
11. It is found that the complainant also questioned the redactions to one of the records provided to him on August 17, 2012.
12. It is found that on December 7, 2012, which was the day of the hearing in this matter, the respondents provided the complainant with the records concerning the person referenced in the Judicial Branch docket screen shot and also specified the exemptions to support the redactions to the record previously provided to the complainant.
13. The only issue to be adjudicated at the hearing in this matter was whether the respondents’ compliance was prompt.
14. It is found that the records provided to the complainant on December 7, 2012, were Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) notes relating to the arrest of the person referenced in the screen shot. It is found that such notes were not maintained with the arrest summary records provided to the complainant on August 17, 2012.
15. It is found that during the pendency of the complainant’s request, the respondents’ Legal Affairs Office, which handles all of the requests for the respondents’ records, experienced an unexpected and significant staff shortage. It is found that the number of pending records requests during that time was high – numbering approximately 800 at any given time.
16. The respondents’ witness, who is a paralegal in the Legal Affairs Office, testified credibly about the thoroughness of her search for the missing records, described in paragraph 10, above. It is found that her search was diligent.
17. The Commission is sympathetic to the respondents’ challenges and is aware that the complainant has made many requests for the respondents’ records. Nevertheless, although the respondents’ witness’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances, it is found that the three-month delay in providing the computer printout was too long.
18. Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to provide all of the records that the complainant requested in a prompt manner.
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 comply promptly with the FOI Act.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 23, 2013.
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:
127 Barton Street
Torrington, CT 06790
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of
Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division
of State Police; and State of Connecticut, Department
of Emergency Services and Public Protection,
Division of State Police
c/o Terrence M. O’Neill, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
State of Connecticut,
Office of the Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission