Public Records Request for 911 Tape

I’ve taken a little heat for releasing the 911 recording for the October 14 shooting.  Just so you know, I really didn’t have a choice.  The public records law has accompanying court rulings that narrowly define the exceptions on the requirement to release information.  The main three exceptions that may have applied in this case are:
1.      Interfere with enforcement proceedings
2.      Deprive a person of a right to a fair trial
3.      Constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
I discussed this with the investigation supervisor, the prosecuting attorney, and the city attorney before releasing the recording.  In short, as defined by the courts, none of the three exceptions above applied.
The only exception that sticks in my throat is the “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”  The newspaper chose to publish a detailed account of the call and posted all 8 minutes of it online.  I’m told that the person who called 911 told investigators that she would no longer cooperate with the investigation because of the public release.  At this point, it likely won’t hurt the case, but it’s unfortunate.  I also don’t like the chilling affect that has on people calling us for help. 
On the other hand, it’s important that we’re open and accountable to the public.  I also want the public to understand what happened so they’ll have confidence that we’re getting it right.

Regardless of my personal opinions, the bottom line is that it’s the news media that makes that determination, not the police.  We can and do withhold certain information, but only as provided by law.