Yale To Release Police Records
By KIM MARTINEAU | Courant Staff Writer
NEW HAVEN — - Yale University will make public its internal police records rather than fight in court an unfavorable Freedom of Information Commission ruling, Yale announced Friday, a move that could make its campus police department more transparent.
The New Haven lawyer whose open-records request made national news cheered the development. "Openness breeds honesty, integrity and trust," said Janet Perrotti, a public defender. "The public's perception of Yale is that it's a bunch of elitist snobs."
Perrotti asked for the disciplinary records of two Yale officers who had arrested her client, a black teenager, for riding his bike on a city sidewalk last spring, blocks from the Ivy League campus. When the story that the officers gave of the arrest contradicted the 16-year-old's account, Perrotti wondered if the cops had any professional blemishes.
She requested their personnel files under the state Freedom of Information Act, but Yale denied her request, claiming that its officers are not subject to open-records laws because they work for a private institution. Perrotti appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission, which formally rejected Yale's arguments in February.
Had Yale chosen to appeal, the university potentially faced years of drawn-out litigation and further criticism from the public. Although Yale police do not draw a government pension, they carry guns, testify in court and can make felony arrests anywhere in the state.
By Friday afternoon, the defense attorney had left two messages with Yale seeking to pick up personnel records for Officers Brian Donnelly and Chris Cofrancesco.
Yale's decision to turn over the records has potentially far-reaching consequences, notwithstanding its assertion, in a press release Friday, that it already makes crime records public through the New Haven Police Department.
As a practical matter, reporters rarely get access to Yale crime reports; when making such requests, The Courant is routinely referred to the New Haven Police Department, which refers calls to Yale, which invokes its status as a private entity in refusing disclosure. A request for an interview with Yale Chief James Perrotti on Friday was referred to public affairs — which declined to make Perrotti available.
Source: Yale To Release Police Records -- Courant.com
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