The task force charged with making recommendations to the General Assembly to balance victim privacy under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act with the public's right to know is taking shape.
Gov. Daniel P. Malloy named two appointees on Friday. They include New Haven police officer Jillian Knox, who is assigned to her department's Victim Services Unit, and Andrew Woods, executive director of Hartford Communities that Care. His organization is a nonprofit group that promotes a nonviolent, drug-free environment.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, meanwhile, has appointed Hartford Rep. Angel Arce to the panel. Arce's father, Angel Arce Torres, was struck by a hit-and-run driver in 2008. The 78-year-old was paralyzed and later died.
The 17-member crime victim privacy task force was created in legislation that blocked release of crime scene photos and video evidence from the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. The new law, which applies to other cases as well, prevents the release of photographs, film, video and other images depicting a homicide victim if those records "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the victim or the victim's surviving family members."
The legislation marked an eleventh-hour compromise during the final hours of this year's session. Malloy's office originally worked privately with legislative leaders and the state's top prosecutor to draft a bill that would address the concerns of families who lost relatives at Sandy Hook.
The new law also creates a one-year moratorium on the release of certain portions of audiotape or other recordings in which the condition of a homicide victim is described. The exemption did not include 911 emergency calls, however.
Other members of the task force are expected to include law enforcement personnel, victim advocates, representatives of the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, academics, Freedom of Information advocates and others. The group must submit its recommendations to the legislature by Jan. 1.
The Litchfield County Times