Sabre v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Milford
Connecticut General Statutes §1-210(b)(3)(B), which exempts signed statements of witnesses, does not define the word "witness;" however, its generally accepted meaning is "one who has personal knowledge of something," as expressed in the Merriam Webster online dictionary. Michelle Sabre appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the Milford Police Department and its chief violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide her with a copy of requested records. The FOIC found that Sabre requested a copy of the statement provided to the department by her neighbor pertaining to a certain incident. The respondents provided all records they maintained concerning the incident to the complainant except for the neighbor's statement. The respondents claimed that the statement was exempt from mandatory disclosure because it is a signed statement of a witness. The complainant contended that her neighbor's statement was not a signed statement of a witness because she alleged that the neighbor was the perpetrator of wrongdoing. The FOIC found that while C.G.S. §1-210(b)(3) does not define the word witness, given its generally accepted meaning as "one who has personal knowledge of something," the complainant's neighbor was a witness, within the meaning of C.G.S. §1-210(b)(3)(B). The withheld record was found to constitute a signed statement of a witness. It was compiled in connection with the investigation of crime and was, therefore, exempt from mandatory disclosure. The respondents did not violate the FOIA as alleged and the complaint was dismissed.