Judge Bars Release of R.I. 911 Calls

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(AP) Recorded 911 calls made by victims and relatives during last year’s devastating nightclub fire are “intensely personal” and should be kept secret, a judge ruled.

Superior Court Judge Mark Pfeiffer on Thursday did order the release of about 165 police and fire calls recorded during the blaze that swept through The Station in West Warwick on Feb. 20, 2003, as well as a one-page report showing where 96 bodies were recovered.

The judge denied access to recorded calls from fire victims or family members to an emergency 911 center, and calls from relatives to the West Warwick police and fire departments.

Such calls “are intensely personal and are intimately intertwined with The Station fire tragedy as it was unfolding,” Pfeiffer wrote.

Under state law, 911 calls are not public information.

The Providence Journal had sought police and fire incident reports and dispatch records, along with other related reports.

Also to remain secret, the newspaper said, are the names of people at the club who later sought benefits, and more than 600 pages of police documents. The Journal is considering an appeal, Executive Editor Joel P. Rawson said.

The state attorney general’s office said Friday it would need three weeks to compile the materials that the judge did allow released.



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