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ex County Sheriff's Department 0 Manning Ave P.0. Box 807 Middleton, MA 01949-2807 ppg Telephone 978-750-1900 ‘Shevift ‘ettccntexsheffina ont December 12, 2018 VIA EMAIL, Melissa Hanson Reporter, MassLive 10 Mechanic Street Worcester, MA. 01608 RE: Public Revords Request Dear Ms, Hanson: Lam writing to acknewledge receipt of and in response to your recent public records request dated November 28, 2018 addressed to the Records Access Officer of the Essex County Regional Emergency Communications Center (“ECRECC"), I serve as Assistant Legal Counsel to the Essex County Sheriff's Department, inclusive of the ECRECC. By responding herein, the Department does not waive any rights, ‘objections ar defenses, all which are expressly reserved in fll. Subject tothe foregoing, the Department responds as follows, As you know, you specifically requested “audio and transcripts of 911 calls” with respect to three (@) incidents: 1) 1 fatal shooting in Lawrence, MA on December 31, 2017, 2) a erash on 495 South in ‘Andover on March 14, 2018 in which an individual was fatally stuck, and 3) a May 22, 2018 road rage incident and subsequent crash on May 22, 2018 for which an individual was charged with DUI, assault, ‘with a dangerous weapon ard other charges. Please be advised that given the nature and content ofthe information requested, itis the Department's position that absent a Subpoena, Court Order or Release authorizing disclosure exccated by the individualicaller on the recording, the materials sought are not public records and are exempt ftom disclosure pursuant to G.L e.4,S.7, el. 26(a) (statutory exemption), (6) (privacylmedical information exemption) and (D(investigatory exemption). In the event you have and/or obtain a Subpoena, Court Order or Release fram the individual/aller on the recording, kindly forward it to my attention. ‘The statutory exemption in clause 26(e) specifically exempts from disclosure materials exempted by statute. The privacy exemption in clause 26(c) expressly exempts from disclosure “personel and ‘medical files or information, also any other materials or data relating to a specifically named individual, the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Likewise, the investigatory exemption in dause 26(D exempts “investigatory materials necessarily compiled out of the public view by law enforcement or other investigatory officals the disclosure of which materials would probably'so prejudice the possibilty of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not bein the public interest.” ‘raidly srcing the commute of ses County In short, the Deparment does not disclose the identity and other personal information and statements of voluntary Witnesses, private citizens who have come forwatd and provided information to law enforcement with respect to the three (3) incidents for Which you have requested. Significantly, the calls in question pertain to very serious underlying incidents, two involving fatalities, and the third involving, a road rage incident and subsequent crash resulting in criminal charges being brought, all of which werelare subject to inquiry and/or investigation, ‘The ealls are firsthand witness accounts of the incident() either as they occa, ori the immediate aftermath, The calls contain among other information, the callers telephone number, observations, in some cases descriptions of injuries and/or the scene of the incident, and in one case, identify the place of employment of the ealler, Disclosing the possble identity, contact information and olher personal information of these voluntary witnesses/private citizens not only encroaches upon their personal privaey, but could also ppotentaily have a chilling aTect on their voluntarily coming forward and providing such information in future cases. In short, the release ofthe statements would shed diret light onto ad potentially identify ‘the voluntary witnesses As such, the investigatory exemption allows the law enforcement agency to withhold from publie disclosure information contained in a witness statement which if disclosed, could create a risk of directly or indirectly identifying the voluntary witnes, indefinitely. See “A Guide to the ‘Massachusetts Public Revorls Law, William Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, pe. 20 (Updated January, 2017), Moreover, othe extent that the recordings contain medica information with respect to ‘an individual, the disclosure of such information could not only constitute an unwareanted invasion ofthat person's privacy, but would also be exempt from diselosure by statue, in that case the Healdh Insurance Portabality and ‘Accountablity Act HIPAA"), As a result of the foregoing analysis, it is the Department's postion thatthe records requested by you are not public records subject to disclosure, While the Department respects the public's interes in having access to certain information, the Department also has a sttwory obligation not to disclose information which the legislature and cous hhave determined to be exempt. Inthe event that you disagree withthe Department's decision, you have {he right to appeal this decision to the supervisor of records and the right to seek judicial review of an unfavorable decision by commencing a evil uetion in superior court pursuant to M.G.L,¢. 66, 8. 108 and the provisions of 950 CMR 32.00, “Thank you for your attention to this matter. Very tuly yours, Ce: Christopher Ryan, RECC Deputy Director ‘William Raynand, Records Access Officer