Safety comes first around here | AspenTimes.com

Safety comes first around here

There was nothing ordinary about Wednesday morning’s bear attack on an Aspen woman ” in fact, black bear assaults are quite rare. But the manner in which incident details were distributed seemed typical in this era of the information clampdown.

The Aspen Police Department, which ” along with the Colorado Division of Wildlife ” investigated the attack, withheld the victim’s name because the victim did not want it released. (By going through other channels, The Aspen Times was able to obtain the name.)

For sure, there probably are good reasons why Judy Garrison did not want her name publicized, namely to give her privacy from the onslaught of media calls. We’ll guess that she also did not want to hear from our local contingent of self-appointed bear experts, who would be quick to point out the sliding door the bear used to enter the apartment should have been locked.

An APD officer, in explaining why Garrison’s name was not released, was quoted as telling a local newspaper reporter: “The victim expressed that she wished to remain anonymous and that her address not be given out, so we’re respecting her wishes.”

Maybe so, but a victim’s name is secondary to the interest of the general public. Instead, we see this as the inconsistent, if not unfair, dissemination of public information. While the names of juveniles and victims of sexual assault are protected by law, the identities of victims of car wrecks and burglaries, for example, are not ” even if it is their understandable “wish” to keep it private.

The APD and DOW should know better. This is a public safety issue, and residents have a right to know as much information as possible about the incident ” including the victim’s name. To conceal details is disservice to the Aspen community, particularly when it is a matter that potentially affects us all.