Freedom of Information Commission Rules for ACLU-CT in Complaints Against Stratford, Bridgeport

In a proposed final decision announced on April 21, 2016, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission ruled that the Town of Stratford must provide the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT) with records regarding whether Stratford Police Department has ever purchased or used drones, cellphone eavesdropping or tracking technology, or cellphone forensics devices. The ACLU-CT requested the documents in June of 2015 under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, but Stratford denied the request.

“This is an encouraging step for government transparency and accountability in Connecticut,” said ACLU-CT Legal Director Dan Barrett, who is representing the ACLU-CT in the case. “At the very least, people deserve to know whether and how police are spying on them and whether their tax dollars are paying for it. It is public knowledge that police throughout the country use drones and cellphone tracking devices. Information about where police are using those devices should be just as public.”

The full Freedom of Information Commission will consider the proposed decision at a hearing on May 11 and will issue its final ruling following that meeting. Today’s proposed final ruling, issued by Freedom of Information Commission Hearing Officer Lisa Fein Siegel, is available on the ACLU-CT website here.

UPDATE:

On November 16, 2016, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission ruled, in a nearly identical case, that the Bridgeport Police Department must provide the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut with records regarding whether the department has ever purchased or used drones, cellphone eavesdropping or tracking technology, or cellphone forensics devices. The ACLU-CT requested the documents in June 2015 under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, but Bridgeport denied the request. An earlier proposed final ruling, issued by Freedom of Information Commission Hearing Officer Tracie Brown, is available on the ACLU-CT website here. Full video footage of the Freedom of Information Commission hearing that led to the decision is available here.