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    Chicago Tribune: Wisconsin considers ending access to 911 recordings

    The Chicago Tribune reports that the Wisconsin Assembly is considering a bill that would end public access to 911 recordings because of privacy concerns.

    The recordings are generally considered public records in Wisconsin. News organizations, particularly television, often play them on the air or post them online in high-profile cases.

    Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, D-Milladore, has introduced a bill that would limit public access to transcripts. She told the Assembly Personal Privacy Committee during a 30-minute hearing that she drafted the measure at the request of the families of Jordan Gonnering and his 21-year-old fiancee, Brittany Zimmermann.

    Gonnering found Zimmermann dead in the Madison apartment they shared in 2008. Her killer has never been found.

    Their families have fought to keep Gonnering and Zimmermann’s 911 calls secret. News organizations sued to obtain them after learning a dispatcher hung up on Zimmermann and never sent police despite sounds of a struggle. […]

    Gonnering’s father, Dennis Gonnering of Marshfield, told the committee he’s sure the calls will come out eventually and his family doesn’t want to relive the horrors of the crime through the media. […]

    Wisconsin Newspaper Association Executive Director Peter Fox told the committee the public needs to hear the recordings to evaluate dispatchers and emergency services’ performance.

    People need all the information to judge for themselves rather than relying on a transcript stenographer’s descriptions of sounds in the call, he said, adding the Zimmermann calls led to reforms in the Dane County dispatch center.

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