Tennessee Bill to Regulate 911 Calls Reportedly Held Up for Summer Study

The sponsor of legislation that would make 911 calls and transmissions confidential reportedly wants more time to work on the bill, specifically this summer.

This, according to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website and the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

That bill is HB 335.

According to the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, the sponsor of that bill is State Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisburg.

“The bill, HB 335, would have created an exemption to the Tennessee Public Records Act for all 911 calls, making them only available for use by law enforcement, the courts and other governmental agencies,” according to the TCOG.

“The Tennessee Press Association and Tennessee Association of Broadcasters lobbied against the bill, pointing out that access to 911 calls have led to numerous news stories uncovering problems within the 911 system. They have also been used to document natural disasters, such as when the Knoxville News Sentinel used 911 calls to shed light on what happened during the devastating Gatlinburg wildfires a few years ago.”

The TCOG went on to say “the transmissions of 911 calls also have helped ferret out government coverups.

According to the bill summary, the bill prohibits “using such calls, transmission, or recordings for any purpose other than public safety purposes or as necessary for law enforcement, fire, medical, rescue, dispatching, or other emergency services.”

The bill also goes on to “authorize the release of a 911 call, transmission, or recording to another party with the written consent of the caller whose voice is captured on the call, transmission, or recording.”

“This bill specifies that it does not limit access to 911 calls, transmissions, or recordings by law enforcement agencies, courts, or other governmental agencies performing official functions,” according to the proposed law.

Tennessee State Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro, sponsored the companion bill in the State Senate, according to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]






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