The press corps and the Vermont chapter of the ACLU scored a major victory in the Vermont Legislature last week. Lawmakers approved a change in the public records law that gives citizens access to records associated with police investigations of criminal activity. Gov. Peter Shumlin supported opening police records to public scrutiny, and he is expected to sign the legislation into law this month.
I understood the reaction, given the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school, including 20 students, before turning the gun on himself. I could also understand the initial lack of information, given that officials were ensuring the safety of the area schools and students. However, as my reporters continued to do follow-ups on the “alert,” it became clear no further information would be made available, even as things returned to normal.