New law forces police to release more information from arrest reports
CONNECTICUT — A new state law requiring police departments to release incident information from arrest reports goes into effect Oct. 1. Under the law, police must provide information such as summaries of what led to the arrest, but may present the information in news releases instead of making the arrest reports available.
The legislature passed the law last spring to counteract the state Supreme Court’s September 1993 Gifford v. FOIC ruling that police could not be required to release more than basic arrest information, such as the name of the arrested person. Sen. George Jepsen introduced the bill as an amendment to a bill that requires people convicted of serious sex-related offenses to submit to DNA testing.
The law exempts identifying data about juveniles, witnesses or informants, as well as preliminary notes and drafts, however. Some of this information was previously available to the public. “The final product is less than what we sought but it pretty much reflects the language and points we wanted to make,” said Robert H. Boone, news editor of Manchester’s Journal Inquirer, as quoted by the Connecticut FOI newsletter, Access.
The legislature also approved a measure that allows police to withhold information about what a suspect was wearing or carrying when arrested. A case concerning the drunken driving arrest of a school principle who was wearing women’s clothing at the time prompted the law. The legislature attached the amendment to a bill that gives the public greater access to criminal conviction records. FOI advocates have said they hope to counteract the clothing amendment too. (PA 94-246)