Keep police reports public

It's no secret that the police logs and crime stories are among the best-read articles in any newspaper.

To be sure, some readers simply seek titillation, but most have a legitimate right to know if there have been break-ins in their neighborhood, or if their babysitter has been arrested for driving while intoxicated, or if a business associate has been charged with embezzlement.

Not surprisingly, people who are arrested often go to great lengths to keep details of their alleged crimes from being published - for the record, don't bother calling the editor, publisher or reporters at The Day, which, like most if not all papers, makes no exceptions except to protect victims of sexual assault and minors whose cases are kept confidential by law.

But, as it turns out, some people arrested for crimes with enough money to post bond have figured out a way to keep aspects of their police records private.

As Karen Florin, The Day's court reporter, pointed out in a blog last week, if a person posted bond before his or her initial court appearance the police report describing details of the arrest is not readily available for public review.

Superior Court Judge Kevin P. McMahon, who has been hearing criminal cases for 20 years, much of them in New London, told Ms. Florin he agrees there's a "gap" when it comes to public access to police and probable cause reports.

"Somebody with money, if they move fast, gets the benefit of keeping the information private," Judge McMahon said.

This loophole is unfair and must be closed.

Apparently a flaw in the rules of criminal procedure in the Connecticut Practice Book allows this to take place.

"Judges make the rules in the Practice Book, so it would be up to them to revise this rule," Ms. Florin writes.

We agree and urge judges to fix this problem so that the justice system treats everyone equally, and the media has full access to public records.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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