1:57 PM EST, February 24, 2010
Under Indiana Public Records laws, FOX59 is entitled to basic information from the Carmel Police Department. At the very least, we should be given documentation outlining a basic description of the alleged incident(s) under investigation, even if it includes the redaction of names of those involved, so we protect all identities until criminal charges are filed. However, the Carmel Police Department, through the City of Carmel attorney, is denying our requests to obtain this public information. I want to assure you that we are taking every legal action possible to obtain this information and the answers you feel you have already waited too long to get.
Many of you are flooding our phones and email, shocked and frustrated by the police department and school district's actions of not being more forthright. I can't tell you how much FOX59 agrees with you and appreciates your complimentary notes of our efforts to dig deeper and uncover the truth. To be clear, this alleged incident happened more than a month ago – Friday, January 22nd. Despite four adults being on the school bus at the time, the school district maintains it did not know about the allegations until Tuesday, February 16th. We are now more than a week later – February 24th – and the school and police still maintain they can't give basic, public information about what they are investigating happened on that school bus. Clearly, by the large response to FOX59 by phone and email, many of you are appalled by these explanations, and we are as well. We also understand your concerns about whether the correct course is really being followed by both the school district and police, considering several of the students involved are reportedly tied to prominent families in the community. I assure you that FOX59 News is taking a close look at every action the district and police are taking to make sure justice is served.
In a phone conversation with a representative from the City of Carmel, I was told details could not be released because "the incident involves juveniles". As we all know, any juvenile's name can be redacted on the public record, to protect them. It's also important to note that many of the students involved are not juveniles – we have not made their identities public because they do not face criminal charges at this time. When further questioned in this phone conversation, the representative said "it was too preliminary in the investigation to release any information", despite, again, being several days after police began looking into the case. FOX59 News does not want to do anything to jeopardize the investigation or put students in harm's way – instead, we just want the City of Carmel to abide by the laws of Indiana that every other jurisdiction adheres to, by simply turning over basic incident reports and descriptions.
Finally, we all need to remember that the vast majority of those attending Carmel High School are model students, who should come before anything else. Their education and lives are being disrupted every day at school, wondering when they will get the answers they and their parents are entitled to, so they feel safe now and in the future. FOX59 is extremely sensitive to these students and families, and we will do everything possible to help get them and everyone the answers to the basic questions that police and the school district continue to refuse to give at this time.
Thank you again for your support in our work to get you this basic, public information. We welcome your feedback, phone calls and emails – there is not one that is not important to us. We will continue to investigate every piece of information the public provides us and keep everyone updated on the air and online with every development in this case.
WXIN-TV, Fox59 News