Questions for state police spokesman over report release

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– There was a hearing in Hartford Wednesday that had a state police lieutenant on the hot seat. Reporters from a newspaper in Torrington accused Lt. J. Paul Vance of not giving them information about an investigation fast enough.

Two reporters for the Torrington Register Citizen told the Freedom of Information Commissioner that it took state police four months to give them a police report about a shooting in Salisbury last November. That shooting was in a hotel room at the Interlaken Inn. A group of Newtown police officers were staying there.

According to the paper, the wife of a Newtown sergeant fired one bullet into a hotel room wall. No one was hurt. In his articles and in this hearing, the reporter who was trying to get the report implied the State Police may have been reluctant to give out details because of the law enforcement connection. Lieutenant Vance, of course, disagrees.

“I don’t know if it has something to do with protecting a fellow cop’s wife, be it in another department or state police. We were not allowed to get answers to those questions,” said Isaac Avilucea, Register-Citizen Reporter.

When asked if there was anything unusual about the State Police handling of this because of who was involved, Vance said,”not at all. The case was thoroughly investigated, an arrest was made, and turned over to the state’s attorney for prosecution.”

Lieutenant Vance says the department put out a press release within a day or two of the shooting with the basic information. The Register Citizen wanted to see the complete report and submitted a Freedom of Information request in November. Vance says FOI requests are not even handled by him, they go to the legal affairs department.

Even so, The Register Citizen is calling for Vance to be fined $1,000 and to have to go through mandatory freedom of information compliance training.

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