Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Go Charlie! Thank you for speaking up.

Crist not keen on keeping 911 calls secret

by Dara Kam March 9th, 2010

Gov. Charlie Crist said today he may veto a measure that would create a new public records exemption for 911 calls.

First Amendment advocates and some victims vigorously oppose the legislation, the brainchild of House Speaker Larry Cretul and other unidentified House GOP “leaders,” according to Cretul’s spokeswoman Jill Chamberlain.

Cretul believes the calls should be made secret to spare victims from reliving traumatic events when tapes of the emergency calls are broadcast.

But some victims, including the family of one of the most notorious 911-calls-gone wrong kidnap and murder victim Denise Amber Lee, want the calls to remain public to keep dispatchers and law enforcement officials accountable when they err.

Crist, whose first act after becoming governor in 2007 was to create the “Office of Open Government,” said he prefers greater openness and transparency.

“What we can learn after the fact many times with these 911 recordings can be beneficial to make sure that it’s done better in the future because you can discover mistakes or maybe better management practices that can be utilized in the application of 911,” Crist said this morning.

“It’s been a great thing for the people, a great thing for safety and it has saved a lot of lives. But if we keep those secret going forward, we might not be able to continue to learn from those experiences as to what might help people in the future,” he said.

The House Government Policy Accountability Council is slated to take up the measure (PCB GAP 10-3, PCB GAP 10-3A) tomorrow morning.