Forgive me for sounding skeptical, but it is easy to say you are transparent, but that old saying "actions speak louder than words" seems to ring true. Here is one such incident, and unfortunately just one of many that Mayor Segarra continues to allow to happen in his "transparent" administration.
The latest is the story of Lt. Ed Dailey and the investigation into his actions the morning of February 24, 2011 related to an incident at 16 Rockville Street in Hartford. LT. Dailey was the Lieutenant in charge of the midnight shift on February 24, 2011when officers were dispatched to the are of 16 Rockville Street on the report of an "apparent assault".
As of this date it has not been determined if there was ever an assault or was it just an individual extremely high on drugs who slipped and fell down his front porch. The so called "victim" refused to cooperate with police and no witnesses or evidence of an assault was ever found.
Sometime in early April, I had received a call that charges were being brought against Lt Dailey for a department policy violation of "Failure to supervise". I know everyone has an agenda, but the caller advised that I needed to get a copy of the investigation conducted into Dailey's actions by Captain James Bernier. They further went on to say that the report was obviously a witchhunt to try to demote Dailey and it would be clear when I read the report.
SO, I decided to submit an FOI request to the Hartford Police Department for the Dailey investigation report as well as "any and all related documents". Once again, HPD is too predictable. My FOI request was promptly met with a denial. The City claimed that it was "part of an ongoing investigation" and therefore exempt from disclosure. They forgot to read the next few words in the exemption that states "ongoing investigations" in which the "records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of a crime".
After the HPD denial, apparently orchestrated by Detective Ursula Wiebusch and Corporation Counsel attorney Nathalie Feola- Guerreiri, I asked Chief Daryl Roberts if there was any potential of criminal charges against Lt Dailey. He stated "absolutely not" it was "purely administrative charges". That seemed to be in direct contradiction to the denial, so on April 28, 2011 I filed an FOI complaint with the State of Connecticut.
And yes, you read that correct, the complaint was filed on April 28, 2011 and finally on September 15, 2001, it came to a hearing before FOI. That is one of the big problems with FOI complaints. As an agency that has a large caseload, combined with cuts to a staff that was already too small to handle its caseload and now being combined with two other agencies, Hartford has learned how to play the game.
The City of Hartford knows that even if the law is in my favor, or that of anyone requesting documents, a denial is no big deal. They can just deny the release of anything they don't want the public to see or that they may feel will be embarrassing. The consequences are almost non-existent. Deny the release, go to a hearing that may take 6 or 8 months to be scheduled, then wait for a hearing officers report which could be another three or four months, and then finally the hearing officers report would go before the full FOI Commission for adoption and they could be another two or three months before it gets on the FOI Commission agenda.
So all in all, the documents could take up to a year to obtain, at which point the City knows they will most likely be useless and worse case scenario, the FOI Commission might assess a fine, typically under $200.00, which in the end the City will pay anyway and there is no accountability or penalty to the individual making the unlawful decision.
The largest fine I ever obtained at FOI was the maximum fine of $1,000.00 against former Corporation Counsel John Rose, and the full FOI Commission eventually reduced that to $200.00, which the City of Hartford paid for Rose.
So anyway, back to the Dailey report. An FOI hearing was scheduled and held on Thursday September 15, 2011. The City tried a few different ploys to defend their actions, the first was by apparently forgetting to tell Chief Roberts that there was a hearing he needed to attend, or at least they felt he didn't need to be there to answer any questions.
Although the City's defense before FOI seems to hinge entirely on the Bernier investigation report , it was clear that in my FOI request, I stated "any and all documents" related to the incident and the City did not provide one page of documentation related to the request, no memo's, no incident reports, no dispatch logs...NOTHING, not one sheet of paper.
The first tactic the City's lawyers used to defend their actions was that the report was not yet finished. That seemed odd since the Corporation Counsel's Office was already involved and had scheduled disciplinary hearings against Dailey. I'm not sure how you hold a hearing for discipline without having all the facts, but I guess that is how it goes when a real estate attorney like Feola-Guerrieri decides to practice municipal or employment law.
But, interestingly enough, I had already obtained most of the documents through "alternative means" after the City refused to provide them in accordance with the FOI laws. After the claim by corporation Counsel attorney Alexandra Deeb to the hearing officer that the report was not yet complete, I think she was caught off guard when I began producing copies of the City's own documents that I had obtained through "alternative means". ( I love that term ).
The claim that the investigation was not yet complete was met with my document, below as "claimant's exhibit C". (That's me claimant). It is the Command Review form that accompanies the investigation as it is forwarded up the ladder for discipline. As you can see in the document below, Deputy Chief Scott Sansom signed off on March 4, 2011 "INVESTIGATION COMPLETE, I CONCUR WITH THE RECOMMENDATIONS AND INFRACTION".
INVESTIGATION COMPLETE, it would seem pretty hard to then claim the report was not released because it was "incomplete" or ongoing. That Command review sheet was also signed off on the same day by Assistant Chief Brian Heavren and Chief Daryl K. Roberts.
Dailey Command Review Form
When I introduced the Command Review form, it seemed to create a problem for the City's claim that the report was not complete, Deputy Chief Sansom's words seemed to pretty clear, and also very legible "Investigation complete".The City's attorney regrouped quickly though and tried a new approach.
It was the City's contention that in their view the investigation was not complete until the disciplinary process had completely run its course and Dailey was either found liable or cleared. Their point is that it wouldn't be fair to Dailey for information to get out about the charges before he was disciplined. If you read the report, and Dailey's rebuttal, it should become pretty clear to you that the last thing Captain Bernier or the City cared about was fairness for Lt. Dailey.
It also seemed less than genuine on the part of the City's attorney to grasp at that small thread, if the hearing officer bought their claim that the report was "technically" not complete, they would also have to meet those couple little words for the exemption to apply..."records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of a crime". They then stated on the record that criminal charges against Dailey were a possibility, though that seems to surprise everyone involved that I have spoke with.
But to point out the ridiculousness of that argument, I said that we go against that everyday in the Courts. If we went by the City's standard , no arrest report or arrest warrant would be made public until after a persons arrest was completely adjudicated through the courts with either a conviction or a dismissal, and we know that is not the case.
The City introduced a copy of a department policy, but I'm no lawyer, but I seem to recall that State Statute takes priority over any City Policy and because HPD may or may not have "a policy" that does not release them from complying with lawful state statutes.
Attorney Deeb from the Corporation Counsels office also did not seem thrilled that I had the full report and the documents I had and she tried to insinuate that Lt. Dailey had provided them to me. That was not the case, and I'm not sure what bearing that had on anything, other than the fact that it proved that the City was being less than truthful in their actions.
The FOI hearing officer also seemed to question why Chief Roberts was not there to defend his actions and those of his department. Eventually she ended the hearing, continuing it to another date and explained to the Corporation Counsel Attorney's that she expected Chief Roberts to appear or the FOI Commission would issue a subpoena to Roberts compelling him to appear. She stated that she would prefer to have Chief Robert's appear voluntarily rather than have to issue the subpoena.
The FOI Hearing Officer, Attorney Tracie Brown, explained that she would prefer the voluntay route rather than the subpoena because it might appear that the Commission was coming down on Hartford "like a hammer". Maybe it is about time that they do though, coming down on Hartford "like a hammer" might just send the message that the game playing with public documents is not going to be tolerated by FOI.
Below is the investigation report submitted by Captain Bernier, dated February 24, 2011, almost two months before I requested it through FOI, even though the City claims through its convoluted claims, that the report is incomplete.
And I know that sometimes these HPD postings may tend to become a means for bashing some through the comments, but I would ask for those reading, compare the Bernier report with Dailey's response and let me know if you think Bernier's report was fair or if Daileys response has validity. Is it proper in an investigation to leave out documents that show all of the facts or is it acceptable to only present the facts that would lead to a finding that Dailey was wrong?
A lot more to come on this, but enough typing and scanning documents for one night.
The charges against Dailey, please note there is no mention of any "criminal charges" as the City's attorneys claim there "may" be as an outcome for the investigation:
Dailey Disciplne Review Form
The Department Advocates letter to Dailey detailing depertmental charges, again no mention of potential criminal charges
Dailey Advocate Memo of Charges
And this is one of the reports omitted from Captain Berniers report, an interview conducted by Detective Fowler
Dailey Fowler Supplement Report
And Lieutenant Dailey's response to the allegations:
Dailey Respone Memo
And finally the Bernier "report",note the date on the cover page, even though the City contends the report is not complete:
Dailey Bernier Report