Panel Examines Privacy Issue

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

An Alabama criminal justice commission on Tuesday considers whether to change police incident reports so the public will no longer be able to see the names and addresses of crime victims.

Crime victim advocates want the change, but some news media say it will put the public in the dark about what's going on in their communities.

Sam Harvey, editor of The Advertiser-Gleam in Guntersville and a former president of the Alabama Press Association, says names and addresses are part of the news. He says people want to know what's happening to their neighbors.

On Sept. 30, the security and privacy committee of the state Criminal Justice Information Center approved new incident report forms.

The incident reports have two sides, with public information on the front and confidential information for police only on the back.

Victim information, including names, addresses and telephone numbers, would be moved to the back on the new form.

The front of the form would tell the area where the crime occurred, possibly being as specific as the block where it occurred, but the exact address would not be disclosed.

The commission which oversees the State Criminal Justice Information agency meets Tuesday to consider the new form. If approved, law enforcement agencies throughout the state would begin using it.

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