Tuesday, January 15, 2013

No More Briefings Please

“It's not what you don't know that kills you, it's what you know for sure that ain't true” -- Mark Twain

The police report on the mass slaughter in Sandy Hook will not be completed until mid-March. But the absence of a final  report will not hinder Governor Dannel Malloy; and in fact, the governor told reporters on Tuesday, January 15, that he has broken off briefings from the state police, according to an Associated Press report.

The governor told reporters, the AP notes, that “he doesn't need to know much more about the Dec. 14 crime that left 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School dead, as well as the shooter and his mother.”

On the basis of the information the governor now has at his disposal – which he considers complete and sufficient – he should be able to answer a few questions.

What was the police response time to the shootings?

At what time did the first call come in?

Who made the call?

By whom was the call received?

What information was given by the caller?

Who were the first responders?

From the time the first responders were notified, how long did it take them to ready themselves to leave their point of departure?

How long were they in transit?

What is the average response time of a fire call in Sandy Hook?

The weapons used by Adam Lanza during his killing spree were owned by his mother. his first victim. Were the weapons properly secured?

How were they secured?

Did Adam Lanza have free access to the weapons?

Following the killing of his mother, did Adam Lanza go directly to the school?

Had Mr. Lanza any contact with faculty at the school prior to his killing spree?

If so, who did he contact?

When was the contact made?

What was the nature of the contact?

The Lanza’s were divorced. Before the shootings, was Adam Lanza in communication with members of his family other than his mother, such as his brother and father, neither of whom were living in the same area?

If Adam Lanza did contact his brother or father prior to the shootings, what was the substance of the contact?

It has been reported that Adam Lanza may at some point have been under the care of a doctor. If so, who was the doctor and what was the nature of his illness?

What was his treatment?

Was Adam Lanza at any point prior to the shootings taking medication?

If so, what kind of medication was he taking and for how long?

It has been reported that Adam Lanza’s mother had considered committing her son for treatment. Is there any evidence to suggest that Mrs. Lanza was considering committing her son on an involuntary basis for treatment?

What information have forensic scientists been able to recover from the shattered hard drive of Adam Lanza’s computer? What information not made available to reporters has been recovered by other investigatory means?

If Adam Lanza had survived and faced prosecution for having murdered 20 young children and 6 faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the state of Connecticut could not have executed him – provided he was found guilty after all his appeals had been exhausted, a needlessly complex process that takes a dozen or more years – because the Democrats in the General Assembly had, following a multiple murder in Cheshire, abolished the death penalty. Would the governor favor a restoration of the death penalty for multiple murders of a kind committed by Adam Lanza?

The questions above were sent to Governor Dannel Malloy.

Andrew Doba, his press liaison, responded, “It looks like these questions would be better directed to the State Police. Please reach out to Lt. Paul Vance. Let us know if you need anything else.”

In fact, I did need something else. I replied, “Sure. Thanks. I understand the reason for the referral. Can you tell me if the governor’s office is in receipt from the state police of the answers to these questions?

No response.

Lt. Vance begged off on all but three questions, giving as his reason “This is an open active criminal investigation. I reviewed the questions that you submitted. I can only answer a couple of them at this time. See below:"

Lt. Vance’s minimal responses to the questions are in italics.

“Who were the first responders? Newtown Officers, State Troopers, and other Local Officers all responded. (I wanted names, so that they could be contacted.)

“From the time the first responders were notified, how long did it take them to ready themselves to leave their point of departure? Immediate response (I needed a time; 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes)

“What is the average response time of a fire call in Sandy Hook?" Ck with Fire Department I don’t have that info.

Answers to the unanswered questions are indispensible for any legislator writing a bill that sought to prevent future Sandy Hooks.

Questions concerning the response time are crucial because a rapid response was the ONLY thing that happened on the day of the slaughter that DID save lives. I had mentioned this in other columns and suggested that time spent by legislators improving response time would be well spent.  Since we don’t know what the response time was, we don’t know if and how it may be improved.

The questions unanswered above indicate that the data stream flowing from Sandy Hook is mostly conjecture.  Lt. Vance cannot be faulted for wishing to conduct a thorough investigation, though it should be kept in mind that the horrid crime in Sandy Hook is not the War of the Roses. But what are we to think of legislators, banging their chests and boasting that this or that measure will protect school children from the next Adam Lanza, when they know and we know how little they know?

When I put that question to a newsman and editor who has been plying his trade for more than four decades, he answered, without benefit of an investigation, “Since when do any of them want to be effective? They want only to be seen doing something regardless of relevance.”


See here for a later report on this story: http://www.greenwichtime.com/newtownshooting/article/Families-briefed-on-Sandy-Hook-shootings-probe-4204171.php

State Police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said that state law prevents authorities from releasing information about Lanza's mental state.

"A medical history doesn't die with an individual and there was some discussion about that," he said. "It's our responsibility to abide by state law even when conducting an investigation."

If that’s what state law says, state law should be changed. All medical information that is part of a formal police investigation should be released in final reports – especially in this case in which a mental disorder may be a cause of the crime and legislation affecting mental health bills are awaiting a final report.

It is not clear at this point whether leading legislators realize that a law they've written makes it unlikly that that will receive timely information that should shape current legisltion.

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