Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

July 18, 2000





By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Senior Attorney

You wanted to know if the law allows police departments to release information contained in an arrest warrant that was not served.

Yes. The law allows police departments to disclose information contained in unexecuted arrest warrants. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is controlling in this area. Title 54 (CGS Secs. 54-142g to 54-142p), which is a comprehensive body of rules and procedures governing the maintenance, disclosure, and security of conviction and nonconviction information does not, by definition, apply to information contained in an unexecuted arrest warrant.

FOIA requires public agencies to disclose to the public records that they maintain unless some other law (federal or state) requires them to be kept confidential. No law requires arrest warrants to be treated confidentially. But FOIA, itself, contains numerous exemptions to its disclosure requirement. One exemption allows law enforcement agencies to keep confidential records not otherwise available to the public that were compiled in connection with crime detection or investigation if disclosure would not be in the public's interest because it would disclose:

1. unknown informants,

2. signed witness statements,

3. information prejudicial to a future law enforcement action,

4. unknown investigatory techniques,

5. juvenile records,

6. the identity of sexual assault victims or victims of risk of injury or moral impairment crimes, or

7. reports containing uncorroborated allegations (CGS 1-210 (b)(3)).

Although it appears that the Farmington Police Department could have invoked this exemption to prevent the disclosure of arrest warrants prepared for two University of Connecticut basketball players who allegedly stole goods from a Westfarms Mall store, the law does not require the department to do so. Agencies, including law enforcement agencies, may, but are not required to, disclose any records that they are allowed to keep confidential under FOIA. (Please see OLR Report 2000-R-0599 for more information regarding this incident.)

Interestingly, if law enforcement officers had executed the warrant and arrested the suspects, the law would have limited the information they could disclose. They could have disclosed the arrestees' names and addresses; date, time, and place of the arrest; the offense for which they were arrested; and the arrest report, incident report, or news release. They could not have disclosed any personal possessions or effects found on the arrestees at the time of arrest (CGS 1-215).