Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III is well past the June deadline he initially set for his office to finish and release a report on the shooting of 20 first-graders, and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That deadline was changed in August to “the fall.”
“I hope it comes today, but it’s not,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday. “I’ve been assured that they have made steady progress and that hopefully it will be released soon. It’s necessary that it be released.”
When it is released, Malloy said that he believes a report will be released and when it is, it will show that the response by police and first responders “saved lives.”
“The shooter would have continued down other classrooms, but for the ability of the police to arrive in a timely fashion,” Malloy told a group of law enforcement officials gathered Monday for the Arnold Markle Symposium at the University of New Haven.
Famed forensic scientist, Dr. Henry Lee, was expected to give a keynote address later in the symposium titled: “Shooting Investigation Evidence and Management.”
Malloy said the state will look to Sedensky’s report for further guidance even though advocates for open government are skeptical that the full report will be released to the public.
Sedensky is appealing a September Freedom of Information Commission decision that ordered Newtown police to release 911 calls made from Sandy Hook Elementary School during last December’s attack.
During a hearing on the issue, Sedensky argued that the tapes didn’t have to be made public because they were covered by state laws making certain child-abuse records confidential. It’s that argument that has open government advocates like Attorney Dan Klau concerned.
Earlier this month Klau, who chairs the board of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government, wrote on his blog that based on this argument the public will probably only see “a highly redacted document or a brief summary of its contents.”
Sedensky plans on appealing the commission’s decision regarding the 911 tapes to Superior Court.
“But Mr. Sedensky does not need a determinative decision from a court concerning the merits of his argument to justify (in his mind) withholding the report; he only needs to say that he believes his legal argument has merit and that until the State Supreme Court tells him otherwise, he is going to treat the report as if it contains information relative to a child abuse investigation,” Klau wrote in his post. “Because the law exempts such information from disclosure, he won’t disclose the report.”
The report is expected to include information about what happened on Dec. 14, 2012 and what the police learned from the shooting so they can prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
In the meantime, Malloy told law enforcement officials that the state has done what it can with the information it has to pass “major new gun legislation around the issue of the types of guns that can be sold in the state of Connecticut.” He said they also passed “universal background check requirements” so that everyone who buys or exchanges a gun is subject to a background check.
But it went beyond guns. It strengthened mental health laws and implemented early interventions, specifically for children. He said the one thing to remember about mental health challenges is that most “will in fact be overcome.”
There’s also the issue of school security. The administration has already started distributing about $5 million to school districts to harden their infrastructure. He said he expects the Sandy Hook Commission to offer some guidance in January as to what it school security measures work better than others.
The Sandy Hook Commission is also awaiting the release of Sedensky’s report before it drafts a final report to Malloy. The last meeting it held was in August.