Mary gets a call back on 911 public records


schwager-newBy Mary Schwager

On December 4, 2008 my answer arrived when the Secretary of State’s office called back.

I was informed that only 911 call transcripts are covered under the Massachusetts public records law.

The issue of obtaining actual call recordings has not been adjudicated . So if you ask a police department for a 911 call, under the current law, all they have to provide is a transcript, that can be redacted.

I tried the discussion again about electronic records and that even the Secretary of State’s guide points out “in the old days” when the public record law was originally written they didn’t expect the computer era of records and that 911 calls should fall under that category. Their answer was still: transcript only required.

So if you request an actual 911 recording from a police department, apparently they are doing you a favor releasing it–something that makes me shutter even as I write this and hope the Google gods don’t allow this to pop up in a police department internet search of the topic.

The spokesperson also apologized for the delay, saying that they just finished certifying the election results, next step is certifying the electoral college.


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One Response to “Mary gets a call back on 911 public records”

  1. scott a. mac neill Says:

    Dear Mary I too am having problems with 911 calls being denied me. I wonder if this is a more frequent problem in america than most people would like to believe. Please let me know if 911 calls are only kept for ninety days before being destroyed. A police shooting is involved with mjy request.

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