Police: Journal News Pistol Map Incites Harassing Calls

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – White Plains police are investigating a few harassing phone calls made to Journal News employees following the newspaper’s publication of an online map with the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties, Detective Lt. Eric Fischer said.

Fischer would not go into detail about what specific threats were made.

“There is a law enforcement aspect to this because there are now armed security at that building to protect, not only The Journal News, but all the other tenants in that building,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said Tuesday on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC radio.

Friday, a letter addressed to The Journal News containing a white powder led police to close off the White Plains Public Library parking garage, where the letter had been opened. A hazardous materials team was called, and the car in which it was opened was removed from the garage. Police later identified the substance as baking soda.

Another suspicious envelope sent to The Journal News on Jan. 2 also had white powder, which police said was nontoxic. Public Safety Commissioner David Chong said any link between the incident and the pistol map would be speculation.

The map was published Dec. 23 on The Journal News' website following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting Dec. 14 that left 20 first-graders and six adults dead.

The Journal News filed Freedom of Information Law requests with the Westchester and Rockland county clerks’ offices, which released the information. Names and addresses from pistol permits are public record under state law. Putnam County has since refused to release the records.

Astorino said Tuesday on the radio show that he didn't know about about the requests for the data. He said The Journal News was within its rights to publish the article, but said with that right comes responsibility. He called the pistol permit map a “data dump.”

“It’s one thing to list a name, it’s another thing to list their addresses, which I think went overboard,” Astorino said on “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “It’s important to understand that in a real way, some of these people have been put in jeopardy.”

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