Police-records bill on its way to governor’s desk

It looks like we have our first WGBH News Muzzle Awards winner of 2015. Last night the Massachusetts Legislature passed Senate Bill 2334, which, as I wrote here yesterday, would block access to certain police records now open to the public.

The ostensible purpose is to protect victims of domestic violence, but as First Amendment lawyer Jeffrey Pyle tells David Scharfenberg of The Boston Globe, “Problems with the criminal justice system are rarely, if ever, solved by decreasing transparency.”

The bill had not come to a vote before Scharfenberg’s deadline, but Globe reporter Michael Levenson tweets that it’s now on its way to Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk — and that he’s likely to sign it.

By the way, Scharfenberg calls the bill “a little-noticed measure.” But the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association flagged it months ago, and I brought it up on WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press.” If this had gotten more attention early on, we might not find ourselves where we are today.

3 thoughts on “Police-records bill on its way to governor’s desk

  1. Hi Dan,

    It would seem from what I’ve read that the governor plans to do a 10-day mull, like he did with the budget, so we still might have a little time.

    Any sense that a last-minute, last-ditch, full-court press by Massachusetts media (the Globe and the Herald, Boston TV, dailies and weeklies across the state) could get him to hold off on this particular provision, at least for now?

    In the town I cover, probably 50 percent of all arrests are for domestic abuse. So this would place a major part of the police department’s efforts under wraps.

    Jim Kinsella

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