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Final Decision FIC2013-173
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Bill Jestreby and Ronald Cowles,
     Complainants
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-173
First Selectman, Town of Lebanon; Police
Department, Town of Lebanon; Town of
Lebanon; Resident State Trooper, Town of
Lebanon, State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services and
Public Protection; and State of
Connecticut, Department of Emergency
Services and Public Protection,
     Respondents
October 9, 2013

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 15, 2013, 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 February 27, 2013, the complainant Bill Jestreby sent an e-mail to the Resident State Trooper (“RST”), inquiring about where to get data about police incidents in the Town of Lebanon in any given month.
     3.  It is found that on March 10, 2013, the RST informed Mr. Jestreby that he should contact the state [police] records division or the selectwoman for crime statistics.
     4.  It is found that on March 10, March 13, and March 18, 2013, Mr. Jestreby sent e-mails to the RST, with copies to the First Selectwoman, in which he requested access to records with information on the date and address, type of crime of each police incident.
     5.  It is found that the First Selectwoman subsequently replied to Mr. Jestreby, directing him to the Legal Affairs Office of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in Middletown.
     6.  It is found that the First Selectwoman also informed Mr. Jestreby that he could go to Troop K in Colchester to view police logs and crime statistics.
     7.  It is found that the complainants went to Troop K, as directed by the First Selectwoman, only to be told that the records of police incidents that they sought must be requested at DESPP headquarters in Middletown at a charge of $16 per incident.
     8.  By letter filed March 22, 2013, the complainants appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide them with copies of records they requested.
     9.  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.
     10. 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…
     11. It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
     12. It is found that the Town of Lebanon has neither a police commission nor an organized police force.  It is found that law enforcement is provided by DESPP by appointment of the RST and four constables appointed by the Town who serve as peace officers under the direction and supervision of the RST.
     13. It is found that neither the Town of Lebanon nor the First Selectman maintain the records sought by the complainants.
     14. It is also found that the RST maintains no incident report records at his office in Lebanon, and the RST does not handle any requests for copies of records.
     15. It is found that all the records created by the RST concerning criminal incidents are maintained by DESPP at both the originating troop (i.e., Troop K) and the Records Division of DESPP at the department’s headquarters in Middletown.
     16. It is found, however, that only minor traffic accident reports are available upon request at the troop level, and DESPP’s policy is for the Legal Affairs Office in Middletown to handle requests for access to all other incident reports.  See Department of Public Safety v. FOI Commission, 29 Conn. App 821, 825 (1993) (Records of minor automobile accidents must be available at the troop level because, unlike other incident reports, “any state trooper can recognize and copy an accident report without danger of disclosing sensitive or confidential information.”)
     17. It is found that the respondents informed the complainants when they visited Troop K that they needed to make their request for records at DESPP headquarters in Middletown. 
     18. It is found that the complainants did not request any records from either the Records Division or the Legal Affairs Office of DESPP.
     19. It is found that the respondents did not deny a request for access to public records.
     20. Accordingly, it is concluded that none of the respondents violated the FOI Act as alleged by the complainants.
     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 October 9, 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:
Bill Jestreby
77 Kick Hill Road
Lebanon, CT  06249
Ronald Cowles
7 Gregory Road
Lebanon, CT  06249
First Selectman, Town of Lebanon; Police Department,
Town of Lebanon; Town of Lebanon; Resident
State Trooper, Town of Lebanon, State of Connecticut,
Department Of Emergency Services and Public Protection;
and State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services
and Public Protection
c/o Steven Strom, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT  06105
Courtesy copies to:
Janet K. Ainsworth, Esq.
State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, CT  06457
       
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
FIC/2013-173/FD/cac/10/9/2013