Ohio senator says 911 calls should not be broadcast

A few blogs ago, I wrote about my own experience with calling 911. Today, my friend Randi sent me a story about an Ohio state senator who wants to outlaw broadcasting those calls.

While he acknowledges that 911 calls are public records, Sen. Tom Patton said he believes “playing the tapes for all to hear is exploitative and makes crime witnesses reluctant to call police at all,” according to this story on Cleveland.com.

“Patton, however, admits having no sound proof that 9-1-1 calls actually hurt police investigations,” according to the story. “And the senator has not yet followed through on his promise made shortly after introducing the bill to commission a study that would put his hunch to the test and quiet his critics.”

The comments under the story are mixed. One poster wrote that the senator should “spend more time on school funding or balancing the state budget.” Another poster said victims should decide whether their call is broadcast to the public or not.

A similar debate took place on WRAL.com today, where I work as a web news editor. We, along with other media outlets, broadcast and posted online the 911 call of a frantic woman whose ex-boyfriend chased her down the road and fired shots at her car. Luckily, the woman survived. The boyfriend shot and killed himself before police could arrest him.

One poster wrote: “WRAL, you need to take this 911 call off the story!!” Others posters listened to the call and were troubled that the 911 dispatcher told the woman to make a U-turn and drive past her ex-boyfriend’s car so she could get to a safe area behind her where police cars were waiting.

Either way, it’s an interesting discussion about public records and how they are used. What do you think? Should 911 calls be broadcast to the public?



  1. Glad I could give you a topic idea.

    I heard about this on the show, The Doctors. They were all taking the opinion that 911 calls should not be public record because of health privacy concerns. I was with them, a little, until they proceeded to prove their point by playing the Britany Murphy and Urban Myer 911 calls. Ummm, hypocritical much?

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