Gov. Wolf signs Donatucci’s 911 privacy bill into law
HARRISBURG, Pa.– Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law a measure authored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, designed to better protect the identity of victims, witnesses and other people placing 911 calls.
“This measure will help give peace of mind to anyone who may be hesitant to call 911 for fear of retribution,” Donatucci said. “The law now protects the privacy of victims and witnesses, in addition to the caller, so that private information that should not be available for public consumption is able to remain confidential.”
Under H.B. 1310, now Act 30 of 2016, in response to a request under the state’s Right-to-Know Law, a public safety access point is prohibited from releasing the name, telephone number and home address of victims, witnesses or people calling 911. The only case in which this information would be made available is if the 911 center or a court determines it is in the public’s best interest to have such information.
The location of the incident would still be public information, unless the location is the home address of the caller, victim or witness, or the disclosure of the location would compromise the identity of the caller, victim or witness. The street block identifier, cross street or mile marker nearest the incident location would also still be made public.
“My colleagues and I crafted the bill in such a way that it would still provide the public the opportunity to assess the response times of its emergency service organizations,” Donatucci said. “Such information is vital in ensuring the safety of our communities.”
Donatucci said overall, the new law is a momentous step in protecting domestic violence victims, in particular.
“Consider a domestic violence victim who may flee to a friend’s house to call 911,” Donatucci said. “We want to give this person a safe haven so that their abuser can’t find out where they’re calling from and further abuse them. Thanks to this law, we can better protect these victims.”
SOURCE: House Democratic Communications Office