Since July 1, Connecticut Public Act No. 15-211, \u201can act concerning revisions to the criminal justice statutes,\u201d has mandated that police departments withhold the names and addresses of domestic violence victims, and the Wilton Police Department, \u201conce we got word of it,\u201d immediately adopted a policy change in response, according to Lt. Stephen Brennan. But the new policy prevents disclosure of offenders\u2019 names and addresses along with those of their victims. This is by design. An incident of domestic violence, or violence within the home, can involve a victim or victims and one or more offenders who share the same residence, and, in cases of interspousal and familial violence, the victim(s) and the offender(s) often share the same name, too. Thus, in exposing the offender, the victim may also be exposed. Speaking hypothetically, Brennan said, \u201cIf you and your wife were involved in an altercation, and police came to, say, 1 Main Street, and they don\u2019t put her name down because she was victimized, but you were arrested, but now they put your name, and it says, \u2018The husband, who resides with his wife at 1 Main Street, [then the identity of the victim has been exposed].\u201d \u201cA lot of times,\u201d he continued, \u201cin a domestic, it could be a spouse \u2014 same name, same address. It could be a parent or a child \u2014 same name, same address. So you don\u2019t want to revictimize the victim.\u201d Under Public Act No. 15-211, Sec. 24, Section 54-86e of the general statutes now specifies that in addition to sexual assault victim identities, \u201cthe name and address of the victim of \u2026 family violence \u2026 and such other identifying information pertaining to such victim as determined by the court, shall be confidential and shall be disclosed only upon order of the Superior Court.\u201d \u201cJust like victims of sexual assaults,\u201d Brennan said. \u201cThey\u2019ve now incorporated victims of domestic violence, so they\u2019re not revictimized.\u201d When asked whether he agreed, on behalf of the Wilton Police Department, that the importance of victim confidentiality eclipses that of crime reporting, he said, \u201cI wouldn\u2019t say \u2018agree,\u2019 because I don\u2019t have official words with the chief. I would say simply that we\u2019re following the state model, and we\u2019re abiding by the public act.\u201d \u201cTo say \u2018agree\u2019 is very difficult,\u201d he said, \u201cbut we follow what is handed down to us. That\u2019s important \u2014 to follow the rules.\u201d The act protecting victims may be at odds with language in Sec. 1-215 of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which voids statutory confidentiality requirements when it comes to arrests. According to Sec. 1-215, \u201cNotwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, and except as otherwise provided in this section, any record of the arrest of any person shall be a public record from the time of such arrest and shall be disclosed.\u201d The section goes on to delineate, \u201c\u2018Record of the arrest\u2019 means the name, race and address of the person arrested, the date, time and place of the arrest and the offense for which the person was arrested.\u201d Thomas A. Hennick, public education officer for the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, said the new law was plugged in before the legislature adjourned and it took people by surprise. Hennick said he is not aware of any direct exemption for family violence in the Freedom of Information Act. Not releasing names, Hennick said, \u201cis clearly a conflict in interpretation and potentially a real problem, because there is no such thing as a secret arrest in Connecticut.\u201d Hennick said it is his opinion that the only way to know for sure whether an offender\u2019s information should be withheld would be for someone to file a Freedom of Information complaint and for the commission to issue an official ruling. If a party disagreed with the ruling, the person could file a court case. \u201cI\u2019m not an attorney, and I don\u2019t try to parse or interpret the law,\u201d he said. \u201cAt first blush it looks like a deal that we shouldn\u2019t release the name. But not if it only applies to court records when sealed,\u201d he said. Hennick understands the intent is to protect victims, but said that \u201csometimes there are unintended consequences, and this, I think, would be one.\u201d Karen Jarmock, CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the legality of reporting the names of domestic violence offenders has been a gray area for a long time in Connecticut, and she hopes newly implemented police policies that respond to Public Act No. 15-211 will encourage an open discussion in the state. \u201cWhat I would say is, I\u2019m not sure if [these police policies are] legal or not, but that\u2019s why I appreciate this. Because this will force some sort of a situation. I\u2019m willing to stand with [police departments] and fight for this,\u201d Jarmock said. \u201cThis is something that has been such a challenging issue statewide,\u201d Jarmock said. \u201cWe deal with this all the time. If they list the name of the offender \u2014 especially in smaller communities \u2014 it will basically expose the victim.\u201d It\u2019s a subject that The Wilton Bulletin and sister newspapers in the HAN Network have struggled to address over the years. HAN Network Editorial Director John Kovach agrees that \u201cthis has been a source of debate throughout newsrooms for decades. We\u2019ve always worked to protect the victims, whether it meant naming the accused or not. Even at a panel discussion in Boston involving police, a district attorney and domestic violence advocates, I was told that all of their offices were debating which was the best approach.\u201d The policy of withholding names has led to allegations against newspapers that they are providing safe harbor to abusers. The policy of using names is met with the argument that a victim will not call 911. Kovach said when withholding names at other newspapers, the street was routinely released by police and not withheld unless it would directly identify the victim. Identifying the arrested and the charge is not done in the name of gossip, Kovach said. \u201cPolice reporting is intended to warn residents of crime in their area,\u201d he said, \u201cbut it also prevents the police from operating in a vacuum.\u201d\u2014 Redding Pilot Editor Christopher Burns and Easton Courier Editor Nancy Doniger contributed to this report.