Urging state legislators to make a “compassionate choice,” First Selectman Pat Llodra has added her voice to that of grieving 12/14 parents and a group of lawmakers led by Senator and Minority Leader John McKinney working to excerpt certain public records, images and 911 recordings from public access.
On June 3, Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission ordered Newtown officials to provide the commission with 911 calls from the day of the shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary School as it considers a request by The Associated Press.
A hearing officer, Kathleen Ross, asked Monday for the town to provide her the copies within two weeks. She said she commission would weigh objections raised by investigators as it evaluates whether the material should be released publicly.
The AP requested documents including copies of 911 calls in part to examine how well law enforcement responded to one of the worst school shootings in US history. The town ultimately denied the AP’s request, citing legal exemptions that allow the government to withhold documents if they claim they’re being used for an ongoing investigation and should remain secret.
In her letter to state lawmakers, Mrs Llodra thanks them for all the considerations provided to Newtown since the tragedy in December at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“Your actions as legislative bodies have spoken of your commitment to us and to the common good of all Connecticut residents,” she said in the note. “Your hard work and sensitivity to the issues of school safety, mental health, and gun violence supported our contention that you are a group of men and women whose combined actions serve the best interests of our state.”
She then requests that legislators, “dig deep again into that reservoir of compassion and commitment to the common good and support the efforts to block from becoming public the crime scene photos of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.”
Mrs Llodra noted that the past months of elevated rhetoric between and among “truthers,” conspiracy theorists, and those with narrow political goals illustrate how these photos would be used as leverage points for purposes, which she believes “are not in the best interest of humanity.”
“I cannot imagine a ‘good’ that would come from release of the photos, especially of the child victims,” Mrs Llodra wrote. “Who benefits from seeing the horror of that event played and replayed for eternity in digital format? I can only imagine the ongoing emotional pain of the parents, siblings, and extended families of the victims.”
In a separate statement made after efforts to block the materials from public access, Sen McKinney said he was representing the people of Newtown, including the parents and family members of those who were murdered.
“No one has been a stronger advocate of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act than I have, but on behalf of the Sandy Hook families, and because this was an unprecedented tragedy, I support a one-time exception, so that graphic evidence and the crime scene photographs of the murdered children and loved ones of my constituents are not exploited,” Sen McKinney said.
In her note, Mrs Llodra urges state lawmakers to “do again what you have done so often. Make the compassionate choice.”
(Associated Press content was used in this report.)