Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Law Enforcement Should Use Media

Newspapers should be the single largest tool a rural sheriff's department or police department uses to convey what is happening or solicit information from the public.
Sometimes administrators may forget this or someone with inexperience may think keeping information from residents is in the public's best interest. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Rural law enforcement can take tremendous advantage of the fact that newspapers are here, in part, to inform the public of crime or matters which affect them. In addition, the public can aid local departments by being another set of eyes and ears.
When a relationship is working as it should, the department and the newspaper can partner up to do a lot of good. I see it first-hand all of the time and the departments which use newspaper to their full advantage, have success due to the relationship.
When law enforcement decides it's better not to release names or keep vital information from the public altogether, it appears like either there is something to hide, or the department is not on top of things. Eventually, the public's trust of the department begins to wane.
Building a relationship with law enforcement is vital and is in the best interest of the department, the newspaper and the public.
There are many entities which use public funds to function. The governing boards of these tax-supported entities owe it to the public to disclose information, regardless of how painful it may be.
Being involved in several small towns, you see hospital boards, county commissioners, city councils and school boards elected to hopefully, govern these entities to the best of their ability.
Part of that is letting the public know where and how their tax dollars are being spent. A transparent government is one which has the public's best interest at heart.
Most of the entities we deal with are very forthcoming with information. And it is the job of the newspaper to get the reader that information in a timely matter.
As with law enforcement, the better the relationship between a newspaper and a taxing entity, the better it is for all concerned.
It's been my understanding that a transparent government works the best. The public understands when things are not going well, they just don't like to be shocked.
Small-town residents want the biggest bang for their buck. They want their elected officials to communicate what is going on and how and where their money is spent.
When elected officials abide by these simple principals, it makes all of the difference in the world.

Copyright Christopher Blackburn 2008


renee said...

I am a resident of Floyd County and have been for twenty-eight years. I think that law enforcement is doing a great job. Mabey the reason things do not get put in the paper is not for the lack of experience,but consideration for the victim or that someone at the paper is to lazy or they want Law Enforcement to do their jab as well. If you would take the time like Alice did when she ran the paper just maybe you would find out a little somthing about our Law Enforcement Officials. If you would take the time and get to know your local Law Enforcement maybe you would find out how things are done around here. We maybe small but our law Enforcement are a great bunch.

Yep said...

I believe that Chris is living in a world in which FREE SPEECH is taking over his mind. I know the county is wanting to know what is going on, but I live in the county and sometimes it is not okay to know everything. Sometimes the people in the county do not need to know everything. If CHRIS has a problem with the way he thinks things are being ran, maybe he needs to speak with someone before he runs his mouth! The local law enforcement are doing an outstanding job. If I heard correct, everytime there had been a major case, they take the support from everyone and do their job to the best they can. I am very happy and supportive of the law enforcement. I am paying my taxes in this county, unlike CHRIS, and I am getting my bang for my buck!! CHRIS you need to talk to people before you speak.

Christopher Blackburn said...

Please notice no town was mentioned in this piece. If you are pleased with your local law enforcement, great. I'm glad to hear it. It is not the case in all the towns I have businesses in.

By the way, I do pay taxes ... plenty of them ... in several towns. I pay employment taxes, property texas, etc... Please keep the personal attacks to a minimum.

county resident said...

I have total faith in our Law Enforcement Officials to not only serve but to also PROTECT. That not only means protect us from the predators the belong in prison. But also from "predators" that want a good story. We as the residents of Floyd County want to "know the rest of the story" But we also are a family that wants to protect each other.
Mr Blackburn, welcome to our family. It takes time, understanding and caring to make the relationship grow. Get to know the people that protect you. You might just find that when the situation warrants it you will get the info for a not only good story but a great story.

Christopher Blackburn said...

Thank you CR. Floyd County is a great place full of terrific people!