I'm not quite sure who is paying attention to what is going on at the Hartford Police Department, but it seems to be bordering on the absurd lately when it comes to Labor issues.
First we had the whole Lt. Neville Brooks situation. Chief Roberts made it a point last week to tell all of the officers in HPD roll calls on Saturday not to believe everything on "We the People" because they were only reading one side of a story. Fair enough, but so far there doesn't seem to be much on "the other side" of the story.
The we had the Lt Ed Dailey story. This is going to prove to be another interesting personnel matter. I haven't posted anything about it yet because the City and Chief Roberts are stonewalling me on releasing the IAD report into Dailey. To make a long story short, the IAD report as defined by Connecticut law is a public document once it is completed.
The report was completed several weeks ago and a disciplinary hearing was scheduled to be held for Dailey this past Thursday on May 5, 2011. The Chief and Assistant Corporation Counsel Nathalie Feola-Guerrieri are claiming that the report, even though it is complete, is exempt from disclosure. The claim that it is exempt as an "ongoing investigation" is close, but neither the Chief or Feola-Guerrieri seem to notice that one extra word in the exemption "ongoing CRIMINAL investigation".
There are no criminal allegations against Dailey nor has anyone been advised that there may potentially be any criminal allegations. It is purely administrative. Is this one more example of the "transparency" we keep hearing the Mayor and the Chief speak of?
But just when the hearing was supposed to be held, it was abruptly cancelled. According to sources, an IAD complaint has been lodged by Dailey against his accuser, Captain James Bernier. Then, as if that wasn't enough, the Hartford Police Union has now taken up the claims of another Officer who apparently was ordered by Captain Bernier to disclose information from a private, off-duty conversation
The Union memo to Bernier is below, and if you can follow all of this, it details the allegations better than I can here. Sources are also telling me that in the end, this may be an attempt to disqualify the department advocate, Lt. Marco Tedeschi from any involvement in Dailey's hearing. The Department advocate acts as kind of a prosecutor at disciplinary hearings. A panel of three police Captains act as the "judges" and eventually make a recommendation to the Chief as to their findings.
HPD UNION MEMO TO CAPT. BERNIER
Lt.Tedeschi apparently submitted an interdepartmental memo to Chief Roberts last week advising against proceeding with Dailey's hearing. It seems that Lt. Tedeschi did not feel that the accusations rose to the level of discipline being taken. I hope to obtain that memo in the upcoming week and it will be posted here.
And to end the week of the absurd, apparently another police Lieutenant had his unmarked City vehicle towed from the rear of the police department after he refused to move it from the entryway he was blocking.
Only in Hartford.
My FOI Complaint against the City in regards to the Dailey report is below. It's a little long , but you can see how the City works hard to deny release of documents:
TO: Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission
Please accept this e-mail as an official complaint against the City of Hartford and the following City of Hartford officials: Mayor Pedro Segarra, Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee-Borges, Attorney Nathalie Feola-Guerrieri, Police Chief Daryl Roberts and Detective Ursula Wiebusch. All parties involved have potential care and control over the requested documents and/or are in a position to facilitate their disclosure.
All of the above individuals were responsible or participated in the decision making that resulted in the denial of the attached request for records under the Freedom of Information Act.
On or about April 1, 2005 the following request for public documents was made to Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts via e-mail:
>>In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act I am requesting the following for review:
>>Any and all documentation as well as the completed investigative report regarding Lt. Ed Dailey and the incident that occurred at or about 17 Rockville Street on or about February 24, 2011. I believe that the original investigation was started by Captain Bernier. If you need any clarification as to what I am requesting, please feel free to contact me.
>>It is also my understanding that the report has been completed and distributed and is no longer a pending investigation
That request was promptly acknowledged by Chief Roberts, also by an e-mail back to me.
On April 26, 2011, since I had not heard anymore back on the request, I once again e-mailed a follow up request to Chief Roberts . That e-mail was promptly answered by Chief Roberts as follows:
Thank you for the reminder. If you're entitled to this information I will provide it according the rules and regulations of FOI. I will follow up and contact you by the end of business on Wednesday, April 27, 2011.
Please look into this and advise me as soon as possible. Thank you once again.
Daryl K. Roberts
Chief of Police
Hartford Police Department
In the above e-mail, Chief Roberts directed Detective Wiebusch to handle the matter.
On April 27, 2011 I received an e-mail from Detective Wiebusch with a "PDF" file attached of a letter
signed by Chief Roberts denying my request claiming that the report was part of an ongoing investigation. The report has been completed and through a third party, I have seen the
completed report. The report has been distributed to various individuals, and my contention is that the report is a public document.
In addition, there is apparently no criminal behavior being alleged in the investigation or report which would be the only basis for any exemption as claimed by the City. Under 1-210, the only exemption I can see that might apply. Since the City and the Corporation Counsel have refused to cite the specific exemption they are claiming, I can only assume that they are relying on 1-210-b-3 which states as follows "(3) Records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of (A) the identity of informants not otherwise known or the identity of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known, (B) signed statements of witnesses, (C) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action, (D) investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public, (E) arrest records of a juvenile, which shall also include any investigatory files, concerning the arrest of such juvenile, compiled for law enforcement purposes, (F) the name and address of the victim of a sexual assault under section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b or 53a-73a, or injury or risk of injury, or impairing of morals under section 53-21, or of an attempt thereof, or (G) uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-216;".
As anyone reading the statute can clearly see, 1-210-b-3 clearly applies to investigations in which "records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime,". I attempted to make this point in an e-mail to all parties involved, including Mayor Segarra, Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee-Borges and Attorney Hathalie Feola-Guerrieri that was sent on April 27, 2011 . In that e-mail I even cited FOI decisions that would seem to apply to this request. Yet the City, specifically Attorney Feola-Guerrieri seem to ignore the facts as presented
This would appear to be a clear violation of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act. All parties involved, with possibly the exception of Detective Wiebusch, have it within their power to comply with this request but have failed to do so even after I attempted to outline my points. Therefore I am also requesting that the maximum civil penalty of $1,000 per occurrence be assessed against all parties involved as the Commission deems appropriate if a violation is found to have occurred. As the Commission is aware, this is not an isolated incident, but rather what appears to be a pattern of practice to deny the public's right to inspect public documents for exemptions that are not based in state statute.