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Your Tewksbury Today

Police Will No Longer Publish Names Of Those Arrested For Domestic Violence

Aug 22, 2014 08:09AM ● By Bill Gilman

Tewksbury Police Department.

As the result of a provision in a new state domestic violence law, the names of people arrested and charged with domestic assault and battery are no longer being published published in the public logs of police departments in Massachusetts.
Therefor, they will no longer be appearing on a regular basis in the Tewksbury Police Log articles appearing in Your Tewksbury Today.
The "shield" provision was included in a bill that toughens the penalties on repeat abusers, which was passed by the State Legislature with very little fanfare earlier this month and immediately signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick.
According to its proponents, the provision is designed to shield the identity of the victims of domestic assault and battery, many of whom live at the same address as the suspect and/or are related to the suspect.
However, opponents of the law believe it also provides protection for abusers, who are less likely to have their names appear in the news media. There is some concern that this added anonymity could make it more likely they could abuse new victims in the future.
Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan said he was still gathering information about the new law and was not ready to comment on it at this time.
The new law is the brainchild of Weston Police Chief Steven Shaw. Back in 2006, former New England Patriots linebacker and his wife were both arrested and charged with domestic assault after an incident at their home in Weston. 
In an interview published on, Shaw said after the publicity of the Johnson case, two victims of domestic violence in his town refused to press charges because they feared the publicity it could generate.
The legislation was authored by state Rep. Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley.“My concern is that we’ve taken steps, over the last 10, 15 years, to get people that are being abused to call us and the way it is now, you can end up in the paper,” Shaw told the Globe. “People are worried about their image.”
Among those who oppose the new law is Robert Ambrogi, executive director of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association. Ambrogi told the Globe it's important for the public to be aware of the identities of violent criminal offenders.
“If a teacher, if a coach, if a guidance counselor — any number of public officials — is arrested under these circumstances, that’s something the public has a right to know,” Abrogi said.
While the names of those arrested for domestic assault will no longer be made public by police, they will become a matter of public record as soon as soon as the suspect is arraigned. As a result, news media will need to obtain such information from the local District Court Clerks.

What do you think? Should the names of those arrested for domestic assault and battery be published as they have in the past? Or is the new law a step forward in protecting the privacy of victims? Share your opinion in the comment section below.

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