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Lawmakers want to ban the public release of 911 emergency calls

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crime and courts River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Wisconsin is not the only state where lawmakers want to ban the public release of 911 emergency calls.

Alabama and Ohio are also considering it - and Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wyoming already keep those recordings private.

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A public hearing on the Wisconsin bill was held a few weeks ago. It was fueled by the 2008 murder of UW-Madison student Brittany Zimmermann.

The victim's family fears they'll relive the tragedy if the courts release recordings that are now being withheld to protect a police investigation.

Sonny Brasfield, whose group helped draft the Alabama bill, says there's a concern nationally that the release of tapes are "having a chilling effect on people's willingness to call 911."

But open government advocates don't agree. They say botched calls would never be exposed if they're kept under wraps - like the 2008 call in Memphis where a dispatcher asked "What's your emergency?" and then fell asleep.

Those tapes have also been used to praise dispatchers who helped save lives, and vindicate those wrongly accused of mishandling emergency calls.

Still, Nancy Morgan of Florida wants all states to ban the release of 911 recordings. Her daughter and son-in-law were murdered by a stalker in 2005, and her five-year-old granddaughter called 911 to say her parents were dead.

Morgan said she managed to avoid hearing the call for two years until she went on a national TV show about stalking - and the producers jarred her by playing the audio without warning her.

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