Final Decision FIC2012-442
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2012-442|
Chief, Police Department,
City of New Haven; and
City of New Haven,
July 10, 2013
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 22, 2013, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts, 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 et al, 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. By letter of complaint filed August 8, 2012, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents denied his July 18, 2012 request for certain public records relating to a certain homicide investigation, and requesting the imposition of a civil penalty against the New Haven Police Department Freedom of Information Liaison.
3. It is found that the complainant by letter dated July 18, 2012 requested that the respondents provide him with copies of:
[A]ll police officers[‘] and police detective[s’] ‘handwritten field investigatory notes’ and any/all transcripts or notes of any anonymous calls received on February 20, 2009 related directly or indirectly to the homicide investigation case number 09-10199.
4. It is found that the respondents provided all notes relating to anonymous calls, documentation of computer-assisted dispatch (“CAD”) calls, “Be On The Lookout” or “BOLO” sheets, including notes by a Lieutenant Sutton looking for a gray Saturn motor vehicle, and the first report in case number 10199. In sum, the complainant received approximately 140 pages of reports and transcribed statements from the respondents.
5. It is found that the only requested documents not received by the complainant are the field investigatory notes, and the complainant seeks to determine whether such notes exist.
6. 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.
7. 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, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
8. Section 1-212(a)(1), 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.
9. It is found that the requested field investigatory notes, to the extent they exist, are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
10. It is found that, in the respondent police department, field notes are handwritten notes that are typed or word-processed into an arrest warrant application, and that the handwritten notes are typically not maintained in the department’s working file, but are contained in a spiral notebook in the custody of the individual detective.
11. It is found that the respondents conducted a diligent search, but discovered no handwritten field notes responsive to the complainant’s request. Indeed, a witness for the respondents testified that she has never located field notes in a detective file. While the handwritten field notes may conceivably have been maintained for a period of time by the detectives working the complainant’s case, those detectives have subsequently retired from the department.
12. It is found that the respondents provided all the records in their custody or control that were reasonably responsive to the complainant’s request, and that the requested “investigatory field notes” do not exist except to the extent that they were transcribed into records already provided to the complainant.
13. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged, and that there is therefore no reason 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 dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 10, 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:
Teejay Johnson #312949
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
1153 East Street South
Suffield, CT 06080
Chief, Police Department, City of New Haven;
and Police Department, City of New Haven
c/o Kathleen Foster, Esq.
Office of the Corporation Counsel
City of New Haven
165 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission