What if authorities had followed state law and released the Newtown 911 calls when they were requested by the Associated Press, shortly after Adam Lanza's horrific shooting spree on Dec. 14?
That's been the practice after other mass homicides. Police in Nevada, for example, released the 911 recordings involving the Sparks Middle School shooting a day after it occurred.
And in Connecticut, 911 calls were made public shortly after Matthew Beck's rampage at Connecticut Lottery headquarters in March 1998 and the August 2010 Hartford Distributors shooting in Manchester.
But after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the Newtown police and Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III fought release of the tapes, which by law are public records and must be released upon request.
Mr. Sedensky turned his intense legal battle against release of the 911 tapes into a national issue, making it into a bigger story than it might otherwise have been. If Mr. Sedensky and Newtown authorities had followed the law, people in Connecticut no doubt would have been past this issue by now.
The furor earlier this year over keeping secret the victims' death certificates is instructive.
Some feared the certificates would contain detailed, gruesome descriptions of the deaths of the 20 Sandy Hook first-graders and six women, causing their families more grief. But a death certificate states only a time, place and cause of death, place of burial and the like. Legislative proposals to keep them secret ultimately failed.
Likewise, fears that the Newtown 911 tapes would vividly portray the violent deaths of children were without substance. The tapes are, of course, emotionally fraught, but mostly they tell a story of bravery and competence.
It makes one wonder why Mr. Sedensky and the local police fought so hard to keep them under wraps.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun