Sunday, December 13, 2009

When should police news be public?

Departments handle decisions on when and how to release information differently. Police in this case still offered more information than simply meeting their obligation to make records public when finished, Grassey said.

The department also has to consider the impact that releasing information, such as a pending charge, will have on people involved in a case, Grassey said.

"You have to measure the rights of the accused and the rights of the victims before information comes out," he said. "Whether you agree or disagree, you have to protect the rights of everyone involved."

But a person's reputation plays no part in public records law, said Bob Ambrogi, executive director of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association.

"I think the nature of the public records law is that unfortunately, sometimes it's not written to protect people from embarrassment," he said. "It is written to say the public has a right to know certain things."

Delaying the release of information can sow mistrust with the public and lead people to think something is amiss, even if that's not the case, Robinson said.
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