Friday, September 29, 2006

With Some Praise For The Enfield Police Chief

EDITOR & PUBLISHER, The Cool Justice Report

Fri., 9-29-06

Police Chief Carl Sferrazza
293 Elm St.
Enfield, CT 06082
Phone (860) 763-6400, ext. 4, ext. 1 *Fax (860) 763-6416

Dear Chief:

It was a pleasure to speak with you today. I appreciated your time and accessibility and your forthright responses to my questions.

Re: Reports 2006-39046 and 2006-40080, please find a check enclosed for $3 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope. As a footnote, I did double-check with the FOI Commission today and the maximum charge per page for non-certified documents is 50 cents. Again, there is no mandatory charge. There are stipulations do get the documents for free, such as when there is a public interest related to the integrity of public servants. I will not quibble this point with you at this time because, as I stated on the phone, you strike me as a straight shooter and I cannot say that of many other Enfield officials we have encountered recently.

I especially appreciate your affirmation of civil rights, re- any reporters or photographers who might have local business: "We agree he has a First Amendment right. We respect people's rights. If he wants to take photos from another property, he can do that all day long."

Also, I believe you understand how a citizen might perceive being blocked off or greeted by four cruisers after visiting Town Hall to pick up public records. You seem open to the idea that a citizen might feel intimidated when an officer tells him with some vigor, "You know how to get to I-91."

Your explanation that the officer in one cruiser delivered a missing form and the other contained the deputy chief, who happened to be in the neighborhood, is indeed plausible.

For your consideration, due diligence in notifying the object of the complaint might have included a follow-up call by the officer who had one round of phone tag with my colleague. Officer Nolan might have informed your officers - as he was told on voicemail - that a news photographer was just doing his job. I hope you understand that the events of Sept. 21, 2006 caused a chilling effect on news gathering. A reasonable person would have to ask, "Next time I take a photograph or ask a difficult question, will a public official call the police and have them detain me?"

As we discussed, photojournalist and reporter Jim Brewer never set foot on any property owned by the complainant. Nor did he ever receive notice from the complainant not to call. Therefore, any such allegations that might have been made - written or verbally - are false.

We do find it odd and curious that a public official - Anthony DiPace, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission - would initiate police action following legitimate inquiries that are in the public interest. This remains a subject of ongoing interest for us.


Andy Thibault

Copies to: Steve Kalb, Ct. President, Society of Professional Journalists; Christine Tatum, National President, Society of Professional Journalists; Atty. Norm Pattis.


Anonymous said...

So glad to hear that the chiefs close and personal friendship with the mayor and Frank Troiano has not clouded his better judgement.

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