Statement from Mayor Lauren Garrett
Hamden – The availability of public documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) serves a critical role in ensuring trust in public institutions. I was alarmed to learn Thursday that, after certain documents were requested by a member of the Police Commission under FOIA, the Police Department sought permission to destroy those documents from the State of Connecticut, Connecticut State Library, Office of the Public Records Administrator. Those documents included citizen complaints, and though we still have most of the requested documents, the timing of this request gives an appearance of impropriety.
The situation frustrates me because I take our obligation to be transparent to the public seriously. Before the destruction of records can lawfully occur, the Town must obtain permission from the State of Connecticut. The application process for such permission involves the Chief of Police, the Mayor, and the Connecticut State Library. These permissions are not intended to override state regulations concerning record-keeping, record retention and FOIA requests, but only to certify when certain records can be disposed of consistent with those regulations.
I have ordered an immediate stop to any further destruction of records town-wide while I review and initiate policies and procedures to ensure that requests for documents for destruction are communicated openly between Town and State officials, and to make sure that Hamden complies with record-keeping and record retention laws and also with the Freedom of Information Act. Effective immediately, I have ordered that a copy of each civilian complaint made to the Police Department be provided to the Mayor’s Office upon receipt. My office is committed to preventing any recurrence in the future.
We will continue to communicate with the Connecticut State Library, the agency that authorizes record destruction, as well as with the Freedom of Information Commission, for counsel and guidance in order to ensure that the Town of Hamden is in full compliance with these important laws.
For further information, please contact Deputy Chief of Staff, Alexa M. Panayotakis, at (203) 287-7009 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.