Phoenix police will withhold some basic information on both victims and criminal suspects in reports released to the public, saying it’s a way of curbing identity theft, reports the Arizona Republic. Personal identifying information such as names of injured victims, birth dates of criminals and the addresses where crimes are committed will be redacted from the public record in some cases.
City attorneys said the idea is to balance Arizona public-records law with a newer statute that cites the government’s obligation to secure residents from identity poachers. Police will immediately begin identifying criminal suspects by name, age and race only – not by date of birth, even if they are booked into jail. Victims’ dates of birth also would be withheld. Tim McGuire, a former newspaper editor who teaches at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the decision could meet with resistance from Valley media and civic journalism advocates. “In the case of suspects, I think it’s a disaster to not include information like (dates of birth) because it’s going to lead to the real danger of mistaken identity,” he said.