Salatto v. Chief, Police Department, Town of East Haven
An extensive line of cases before the Freedom of Information Commission and the courts establishes that disclosure of reports of internal investigations of police misconduct does not constitute an invasion of personal privacy for the exemption to the mandatory disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information Act in C.G.S. §1-210(b)(2), except in the rare case where the misconduct does not relate to official business and the misconduct is unsubstantiated by the investigation. Robert Salatto appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the Town of East Haven Police Department and its chief violated the Freedom of Information Commission by failing to comply with his requests for records relating to a motor vehicle accident in which the complainant was injured in connection with his arrest. The records remaining in issue included a request for Salatto's own complaint against an East Hartford police officer, Jason Zullo, who was involved in the motor vehicle accident with Salatto. The respondents denied the request on the ground that disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy and Officer Zullo had objected to disclosure. The hearing officer directed the respondents to submit Officer Zullo's entire personnel file, including any disciplinary records, for an in camera inspection. The respondents offered no evidence to prove that the requested disciplinary records do not relate to official business or that the complaint was unsubstantiated by an investigation. They did not contest the existence of the records. The FOIC found that the respondents' failure to include the disciplinary records in their in camera submission to the FOIC suggested that the records show misconduct by Zullo, by the respondents, or both. The FOIC concluded that the respondents violated C.G.S. §1-210(a) by failing to disclose the requested disciplinary records but declined to impose civil penalties. The respondents were ordered to forward copies of all disciplinary records concerning Zullo forthwith to the complainant's attorney free of charge. Requested repair records for Zullo's motor vehicle were also ordered disclosed.