WFSU by Shawn Mulcahy
January 18, 2019
Victims’ rights protections under Marsy’s Law are now enshrined in the state Constitution. But many state agencies are struggling to interpret the broad language, most recently law enforcement.
A man was found dead in the street of a North Tallahassee neighborhood. Residents of the relatively quiet neighborhood were nervous.
Beyond advising residents that the crime happened, the Tallahassee Police Department was largely silent.
After nearly two days of no new information, TPD explained itself. In a Facebook post, the office said it will almost always no longer be releasing any information that could identify a victim in any crime.
“We cannot give any information that gives the location – the name and/or location of the victim – so that way they, and also their families, cannot be harassed,” said Damon Miller, TPD’s public information officer.
At issue is a line from the amendment that says a victim has the right to “prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass you or your family, or which could disclose your confidential or privileged information.”
The question is whether the victim has to assert that right, or if it is automatically applied.
TPD says victims of any crime are guaranteed this protection. Other law enforcement agencies share this view. The Tampa Bay Times reports the Tampa Police Department is following the same practice.
The problem is it is not uniform across all agencies. The Leon County Sheriff’s office, which also works in Tallahassee, views that provision as an opt-in requirement.