There are few legitimate reasons to rehash the gruesome event that took place six years ago this week at Sandy Hook School in Newtown. The families of the dead certainly don’t need to be reminded that an extremely troubled young man named Adam Lanza massacred 20 first-graders and six educators that day, after first killing his mother and before taking his own life.
The only good reason to revisit that massacre, other than in a somber and respectful memorial, is that there may be information in the more than 1,000 pages of material the state police seized from the Lanza home that day, and have refused to release during the intervening years.
There may be clues among the documents — which spell out the thoughts, actions, isolation and delusions of the killer as they evolved, along with his interactions with his parents, teachers, therapists and others — that could help clinicians and researchers better understand Lanza’s descent into anger, alienation, delusion and, finally, murderous rage.
There have been dozens of school shootings since Columbine. What red flags have we been missing?
And yet, the Connecticut state police have adamantly refused to release this material — so adamantly that it took the Connecticut Supreme Court, acting in response to an action by the Hartford Courant and the state Freedom of Information Commission — to bring about the release of the documents.
Kudos to the Courant and the FOIC for taking that action, which was finally successful earlier this month. As the Courant opined in an editorial, public officials “act as the custodians of these records, not the owners. … It is not their right to decide what’s relevant. It’s yours.”
“Yours” meaning ours, as citizens.
This case again shows that certain government and police officials — even now, decades after the passage of this state’s pioneering Freedom of Information Act — still don’t get it.
So let these words (from the preamble to the Freedom of Information Act that was signed into law by Gov. Ella T. Grasso in 1975) be a reminder:
“Secrecy in government is inherently inconsistent with a true democracy.”