A state commission has ruled that the Yale Police Department is not legally required to disclose how much its top officials are paid.
The Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) last month ruled 3–1 that even though the YPD is a public agency, its officers’ salaries are funded by Yale, a private institution, and therefore are not public information.The ruling is a setback for the YPD’s union, the Yale Police Benevolent Association, which last fall accused the University of violating the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to disclose the salary information. Union President Rich Simons said his organization will appeal the decisionto a superior court that has not yet been determined.
“What is the big deal?”Simons said. “They give out salaries for [University President Richard] Levin, [University Secretary Linda] Lorimer and [Chief Investments Officer David] Swensen, but not the police chief?”
But Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the University is required to disclose only certain compensation information annually; federal law requires the University to make public the compensation of its administrative officers and its five other highest-paid employees.
The YPD’s union has been asking the University to provide top YPD officials’ salaries, benefits and use of departmental vehicles since July 2009. Simons said rank-and-file officers are entitled to know what is going on at the top of the department and that the union should be given the salary information for its ongoing contract negotiations with the University.
He added that he does not understand why the University is fighting so hard to prevent the release of the compensation information.Yale’s resistance, he said, has given some YPD officers the idea that the University is hiding something.
Conroy said Yale is trying to protect the privacy of its employees, and according to the FOIC’s ruling, Yale argued before the commission that its managerial employees expect their information to be kept confidential.
When the union first requested the information last year,James A. Perrotti was YPD chief. To prevent his salary and other benefits from being disclosed, Perrotti, who retired in July,hired a privatelawyer.
Yale’s attorney on the case, Aaron S. Bayer of Wiggin and Dana LLP, deferred comment to Yale.
Since Perrotti departed at the end of the last academic year, former New Haven Police Chief James Lewis has taken his place as head of the YPD. As head of the NHPD, Lewis’ $150,000 salary was public record. Now that he has joined the Yale workforce, that information is no longer available.
The YPD union asked for the salary information after the FOIC ruled unanimously in a separate case in February of 2008 that the YPD was functionally a public organization and therefore subject to full disclosure to the public. Yale had argued that the YPD was a private law-enforcement agency.
The YPD union’s last contract was signed in 2002 and expiredJune 30 of this year. The University and the union have been in negotiations since Feb.12 of this year.