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We Listened to the Sandy Hook 911 Recordings

But here’s why we’re not publishing them.

Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
By Regional Editor Gary Jeanfaivre

The first sound from the Newtown Dispatch 911 tapes brought me right back to that cold December morning in Sandy Hook—that day that changed everything and all of us forever.

I was immediately overcome with sadness, sitting in my car in the parking lot of Target in Bethel on Wednesday afternoon. But I listened to each audio clip. All seven of them. My editors listened to them too.

We knew we were leaning toward not publishing the 911 tapes, but at Patch we believe in public information and our role as journalists in disseminating it, so we had to listen. It’s our job.

But nothing in the 911 tapes tells us anything we don’t already know.

The teachers, administrators and faculty at Sandy Hook School acted heroically in the face of terrifying evil. Our first responders got there moments after the first 911 calls were made. And, clearly, the police officers, teachers and students will be scarred for life by what they heard and saw that day.

I know there are many folks—especially in Newtown—who will never listen to the tapes. They couldn’t possibly bear to relive those few minutes before our sense of security was shattered, before 26 beautiful lives, including 20 children, were senselessly taken.

I still wonder why. And how. How could someone do this? Why would someone do this?

We will likely never fully know.

In about a week we’ll mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. In some ways it seems much longer. In others, it feels like yesterday.

The emotional wounds are still very real; we are fragile, a little broken, but slowly healing—individually and collectively.

And for us at Patch—as members of this community and journalists who are more dedicated than ever to serving our local audience—publishing the tapes just doesn’t feel right.
tawisn December 06, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Thank you for honoring the lives and memories of Sandy Hook by not publishing these calls, there is no value in re-living what we already know to be true and would only support morbid curiosity. Your courage to defy media sensationalism will not go unrecognized. Thank you.

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