After a bruising year in which reporters and photographers from around the world crowded into Newtown to report on the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has repeatedly and emphatically asked the press to stay away on Saturday, the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.
This week, the town posted signs reading “No Media — Police Take Notice” along the main road from the town center into Sandy Hook. Now, town officials have said police will enforce that request, preventing television satellite trucks from stopping anywhere in town.
Thursday morning, Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra said the town would not allow television satellite trucks to clog up the streets, set up in store parking lots or park on town-owned property. Police will ask them to move along.
“We have no plan to accommodate any trucks,” Llodra said Thursday morning. “We really can’t allow it.”
Later in the day, Llodra backed away from her statements, and instead referred the question to Police Chief Michael Kehoe.
Kehoe did not several return calls to Hearst Connecticut Newspapers about the issue on Wednesday or Thursday.
Earlier this month he said that police patrols would be increased in town Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In Monroe, where Sandy Hook School students now attend school, the police department has also warned that media vehicles that park near the school will be ticketed and towed.
The tension between privacy and freedom of information has been a consistent theme in town since the shootings. With 20 young children and six adults so brutally murdered, the town became extremely protective about any information about that awful day being released.
A town clerk, Debbie Halstead, simply refused to release the death certificates of the victims, which are public documents. State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky also refused to release 911 tapes of the shooting. Both were ultimately required by the courts to do so. He also delayed releasing his report on the shooting for nearly a year and when he did distribute it, it was just a 48-page summary, with limited detail.
Even when the town demolished Sandy Hook Elementary School, it required contractors to sign a confidentiality agreement, promising to never talk about the school or take any mementos from the site. Then the town erected two fences and posted 24-hour guards to prevent the public — even neighbors or those with long memories of the elementary — from getting a glance at the work.