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Assemblywoman wants 911 recordings protected

February 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Demi Moore and Charlie Sheen are among the long list of celebrities whose personal woes and medical emergencies have been revealed by the release of recorded 911 tapes.

The recordings often capture some of the most traumatic experiences in peoples' lives, like the emotionally charged call from Brittany Murphy's mother, who was heard crying in agony the morning the young actress died.

Assemblywoman Norma Torres believes it is calls like those that should never be released to the public.

"I think we are very vulnerable during those times, and it takes a lot of courage for someone to call and say, 'I need an ambulance,'" Torres said. "I think those medical moments should not be shared."

Torres, a former 911 dispatcher for 18 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, has introduced legislation protecting the privacy of 911 emergency calls.

Just as patient medical records are kept private, Torres thinks the details of medical emergencies handled by 911 dispatchers should also be protected.

"When it comes to medical calls, there ought to be some standards and those standards should apply to 911 calls," she said.

But not everyone is in favor of the proposed bills. Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said in a statement: "I am sympathetic to the idea that it is sometimes appropriate and in the public interest to withhold?But the existing law already provides for this type of selective redacting or editing of 911 tapes."