Task Force Recommends Crime Victim Privacy

27 January 2014

A Connecticut state task force Jan. 24 issued a report supporting restrictions on public access to crime scene information.

The 17-person panel was formed in the wake of the 2013 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The legislature subsequently passed a law that blocked release of crime scene photos and videos to the public. It restricted the release of emergency call recordings in which law enforcement officers discuss murder victims and records identifying witnesses younger than 18. The task force on Victims’ Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know was created under that law.

The task force voted to restrict public access to recordings of 911 calls, dispatch tapes, and photos or videos depicting homicide victims. Members of the public could obtain access if they could prove that the release does not invade privacy. Victims’ family members would be notified of any requests and would have an opportunity to object.  See article in the Hartford Courant.

The task force’s recommendations will require legislative changes to the state freedom of information law.

“If the legislature adopts the recommendations of this Task Force, it will make it easier for law enforcement to keep secret what the people in a free and open society should know,” responded James H. Smith, president of the nonprofit Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.

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