Police department misconduct allegations and disciplinary proceedings

Beryl Lipton filed this request with the Colchester Town Police Department of Colchester, NY.

It is a clone of this request.



From: Beryl Lipton

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, I hereby request the following records:

All materials and records describing and sufficient to show/disclose all allegations of misconduct made and all disciplinary proceedings taken against any officer, employee, or representative of this policing agency.

As described in the New York Freedom of Information Law, a record is "any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever including, but not limited to, reports, statements, examinations, memoranda, opinions, folders, files, books, manuals, pamphlets, forms, papers, designs, drawings, maps, photos, letters, microfilms, computer tapes or discs, rules, regulations or codes." Records kept in a digital or electronic form are also records, would be responsive to this request, and should be provided.

These records are typically required to be retained under the New York State Records Retention and Disposition Schedule MU-1 (http://www.archives.nysed.gov/records/retention_mu-1), including, but not limited to, item no. 365, which includes: "Investigative records and disciplinary proceedings, including but not limited to statement of charge, transcript of hearing, notice of decision, letter of termination or resignation, letter of reinstatement, record of appeal procedure, and correspondence." While materials under that schedule have a set retention of 3 years after the final decision rendered, this request and materials responsive to it include *all* records held in the possession of any office or individual employed or formerly employed by this policing agency, including those kept off-site, in digital form, and in personnel files.

Please note that any failure to provide all potentially-responsive materials and/or the destruction of materials potentially responsive to this request would be a violation of the spirit of the New York Freedom of Information Law, as well as unlawful under the New York FOIL and the terms of the attached litigation hold notice.

Materials responsive to this request include — but are not limited to — all complaints, reports, records of discipline and penalties, aggregate collections of complaint and disciplinary materials (spreadsheets, databases), investigatory materials, relevant related correspondence, photographs, video, other related evidence, proof of discipline or fulfillment of penalties, and all personnel materials (including those used in promotion, contract, and other employment negotiations and considerations) that reference or utilize misconduct allegations or disciplinary materials of any sort.

Materials responsive to this request include all complaints— internal, external, and civilian — and include records disclosing the names, badge numbers, and personnel identification of each officer involved and/or serving as a witness, as well as all available details of the incident/complaint: date, time, location, nature of the incident, description of the incident, nature of the investigation, investigatory materials, the disposition of the case, and any subsequent materials related to the execution of any resultant discipline. Responsive materials include all complaints and allegations against any officer, employee, or representative of this policing agency, regardless of whether that complaint or allegation resulted in any investigation or disciplinary action.

Responsive materials also include all records of use of force by officers, including records disclosing the names, badge numbers, and personnel identification of each officer involved and/or serving as a witness, as well as all available details of the incident: date, time, location, nature of the incident, description of the incident, nature of the use of force, subsequent investigatory materials related to the use of force, the disposition of any investigation into the incident, and any subsequent materials related to the use of force.

Please provide materials on a rolling basis, beginning with materials created during the following timeframes:
• January 1, 2010 - June 15, 2020
• January 1, 2000 - January 1, 2010
• January 1, 1990 - January 1, 2000
• January 1, 1980 - January 1, 1990
• January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1980

Pursuant to NYCRR Section 1401.5(c)(1), should any of this request be unclear or lack sufficient description for your office, please provide direction that would enable this requester to request records reasonably described. Please also note that the New York FOIL states: "An agency shall not deny a request on the basis that the request is voluminous or that locating or reviewing the requested records or providing the requested copies is burdensome because the agency lacks sufficient staffing or on any other basis if the agency may engage an outside professional service to provide copying, programming or other services required to provide the copy...." Please also see FOIL AO 19671, an Advisory Opinion from the Committee on Open Government [https://docs.dos.ny.gov/coog/ftext/f19671.htm].

If your office has questions about this request or would like to discuss it for any reason, please contact this requester via the contact email address provided and feel free to follow up by phone: 617-299-1832. This request is being submitted to each policing agency in New York as part of a collaborative project led by MuckRock and involving multiple other educational and journalistic partners and participants. For this reason, over the lifetime of this request, your agency may interface with individuals not listed on this initial communication.

This request is being made in the public interest by a news organization as part of non-profit (not commercial) journalistic work and research on behalf of the public. In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request and as part of the necessary negotiations for successful processing. As far as it is possible, please fulfill elements of this request electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.


Beryl Lipton

From: Colchester Town Police Department

To Whom It May Concern,

This has been forwarded to the Town Attorney.

Colchester Police


I am attaching the letter of discipline issued to police officer John Cornwell dated June 16, 2010. I have redacted the name of the special education teacher referred to in the letter as it constitutes an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the person whose name is redacted. The other handwritten additions and strike-outs were made at the time the letter was signed. This email informs you that I have been the Town Attorney for the Town of Colchester for the past 30 years and this is the only disciplinary action against an officer of the Town of Colchester Police Department that I am aware of.
While I believe that this satisfies the FOIL request, You or the Town Clerk may want to confirm that there are no other police disciplinary records on file with the Town of Colchester. I have copied MuckRock on this email so that any questions may be forwarded to my email address.

Michael P. DeGroat, Of Counsel
38 West Street, Suite 3
P.O. Box 60
Walton, NY 13856
Tel: 607.865.6507
Fax: 607.865.6509 | Toll Free: 1.877.COUGHLIN mdegroat@cglawoffices.com<mailto:mdegroat@cglawoffices.com> | www.cglawoffices.com<http://www.cglawoffices.com>

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