Reliving Sandy Hook

Close to the anniversary of the slaughter at Sandy Hook, the court determined that Newtown Police Department must release the 9-1-1 tapes to the Associated Press. Several reasons beside the law have been argued including the American public’s right to...


In one CNN report, the authors outlined two psychologist’s view on releasing the tapes. One stated the lack of ability to control for who hears the tapes would have a negative impact, especially on children. The other psychologist argued that releasing the tapes would assist in healing. Hassinger further explained that the release of the tapes will help the country deal with future shootings. Really? Did hearing the massacre at Columbine or Virginia Tech make the public feel less traumatized by Sandy Hook? Will hearing the harrowing voices from inside the besieged elementary school make another school shooting more palatable? That’s akin to saying that since the American Public went through the tragedy of 9-11 with its constant images and sounds of Ground Zero, if it happens again, it will be old hat and we’ll all just go about our business with nary a response. I don’t think so. 

Did we do a good Job?

The final argument for releasing the tapes comes from the court itself. New Britain (CT) Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott stated, “Delaying the release of the audio recordings, particularly where the legal justification to keep them confidential is lacking, only serves to fuel speculation about and undermine confidence in our law enforcement officials.” He expressed releasing the tapes will help the public gauge the appropriateness of law enforcement response. I have to ask, how will the public determine how well the 9-1-1 operators, the dispatchers and the officers did their job by listening to cries for help? In addition, what training and experience does the American public have to judge that response anyway? Again, if and when the tapes are used for training emergency professionals, there is a purpose. The American public saw the honor of law enforcement response that day through their actions.  

Journalists across the country had varying responses to the release. Some chose to air the tapes both on television and on-line. Others chose to only release a transcript of what they heard. And, others they chose to keep those voices to themselves. Being a writer and an American, I understand and appreciate the need for government transparency. On the other hand, I also believe a lot of the requests under FOI have no purpose other than to augment the “If it bleeds it leads” mentality of American media. My heart goes out to all the families facing another holiday season without their precious child, as well as, those who lost a sister, mother, daughter or wife working in the school that day. I think what Nicole Hockley who lost her son Dylan in the shooting told CNN best sums up my feelings, “I have no desire whatsoever to hear the slaughter of 26 people, including my 6 year-old boy. And I can’t imagine why anyone else would want to hear that as well.”


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