Public accountability is never more important than in matters of life and death.
Which is why calls to 9-1-1 have long been considered public records. When questions arise, we need to know everything about how our emergency responders behaved.
This is because of the power we give to law enforcement and emergency medical personnel in such situations.
But public records laws are always under attack from those in power.
That's now the case with the clear rule that 9-1-1 records should be public. In the wake of 9-1-1 calls that were embarassing to a famous actress, Demi Moore, a state lawmaker wants to make at least some 9-1-1 calls private.
The office of Democrat Norma Torres of Southern California announced that she wanted to make medical emergency calls private.
Of course, such calls are already subject to some restrictions, via legal exemptions that shield truly personal and private information.
The practical effect of such a change would be to give public agencies that may want to avoid scrutiny a big legal exception it can cite to deny access to public records.
Put simply, when you call 9-1-1 to talk to an operator who works for the public, who will employees of the public out over public roads to respond to an emergency, your call is a public matter. And the particulars of how it was handled is very much the public business.