MERIDEN — The police department improperly withheld four internal affairs reports involving former Capt. Patrick Gaynor, according to a Freedom of Information Commission hearing officer.
The department is arguing that Gaynor has not yet been disciplined as a result of the four undisclosed reports — they were completed after he was fired — and that he would be entitled to a disciplinary hearing if he won his job back.
The reports are thus preliminary drafts and should be exempt from public disclosure, the department argued in a July 31 hearing.
The hearing officer’s report, which will go to the full Freedom of Information Commission on Jan. 9, said the documents are summaries of findings from four internal affairs investigations, and are complete.
The Record-Journal filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission after the Meriden Police Department denied its request for the four reports in May.
The four internal affairs reports detail some of Gaynor’s actions during two previous department investigations, including one that led to his firing.
Gaynor was fired in 2016 after Charles Reynolds, a former police chief in New Hampshire, sustained charges of insubordination after an internal affairs report determined Gaynor falsely accused Police Chief Jeffry Cossette of retaliation.
Reynolds did exonerate Gaynor on charges that he misappropriated funds.
The department launched the four investigations after learning Gaynor secretly recorded other members of the department on two separate days and then failed to disclose those recordings when requested to do so as part of the initial two investigations.
The four new investigations started after Gaynor was terminated from the police force, and he thus hasn’t had a chance to make arguments about discipline as required by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Loudermill v. Cleveland Board of Education.
Gaynor is also disputing his termination before the state Labor Board and, should he get his job back, would be entitled to a Loudermill hearing.
Meriden police Sgt. Christopher Fry, who conducted the internal affairs investigations, said his reports are completed, but City Attorney Deborah Moore argued the documents should still be considered preliminary drafts until either the labor board upholds Gaynor’s termination or he is reinstated and gets a Loudermill hearing.
Fry said the reports could be subject to change prior to the hearing, noting that Reynolds asked him to make revisions to the report that led to Gaynor’s termination.
Hearing Officer Valicia Dee Harmon disagreed, saying the four requested reports “are the culmination of Sgt. Fry’s investigation,” and that his findings wouldn’t change if the labor board orders that Gaynor be reinstated.
Harmon said this means the documents don’t meet the definition of preliminary draft and aren’t exempt from public disclosure. Additionally, she said that Fry could make any requested changes in a supplemental report, and that both his report and the supplement should be considered public.