Anti-Law Enforcement Bias Alive and Well in New Jersey
Police and Law Enforcement News
Monday, December 9, 2013
The facts - as released so far - are as follows:
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at approximately 1:18 p.m. Perth Amboy
Police were dispatched to a Hall Avenue home for a report of a
32-year-old man acting violently. The caller was the man's mother.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor issued a press release which describes
what happened next:
further determined that Rodriguez [the suspect] stepped outside of his
home and, as the two officers were talking with him, he suddenly raised
his right arm, with a knife in his right hand. While holding the knife,
he punched the female police officer in the head, and tackled her to the
ground. Both officers then fired at Rodriguez. He was pronounced dead
at the scene at 1:50 p.m.
subsequently retrieved a chef’s knife with a five-inch-long blade from
the right hand of Rodriguez.
According to reports, the altercation was recorded by a nearby security
camera, and the video corroborates the officers' account of the
covering this story, a media outlet could go several different ways with
the headline. Perhaps, "Knife
Wielding Man Shot by Police." Maybe even,
Take Down Armed Man."
NJ.com went a
Perth Amboy Community
Special Needs Man Gunned Down by Police
Simply, that is not an accurate depiction of what happened.
best, this headline is reckless.
worst, it is an outright, sensationalistic exaggeration of a tragic
incident in order to bolster readership.
worst, it is a cheap effort to capitalize on a man's death by
instigating and fueling community outrage and keeping the public tuned
in for the next article.
Gangsters gun people down. Hitmen gun people down.
"Gunned down" is not a term that responsible news outlets use to
describe the actions of police officers or at least police officers
acting under color of authority. A news search of the quoted term
yields hundreds of results, and almost every one of those cases involved a
person being shot by gang members, criminals, or terrorists.
The term "special needs" presents the man out of context. The
officers didn't gun down a special needs man. They acted in self
defense against an armed man, period.
There was a time where those who practiced journalism held their
profession in such high regard. They carefully chose their words
and wouldn't think of compromising the standards of accuracy and
objectivity. Evidently, those days are gone at least in some newsrooms.
This headline paints these officers as cold assassins. And each day, as
the investigation progresses, we learn more about what happened: these
officers bravely battled an armed and possibly mentally ill man.
They may have saved the life of the man's mother or someone else on the
street that day.
don't expect the media to be our friend. They have a job to do and
sometimes that runs contrary to our interests. We're fine with that, but
we do expect fair reporting and for them to get the story right.
Media outlets that engage in such misleading reporting should be cut off
from all proactive press releases (department, PBA, FOP events, etc.)
and given just name, rank, and serial number in response to inquiries.
We will, of course, fulfill our obligation but nothing more.
Police departments can fill a lot of column inches in newspapers.
Access to stories and our media personnel is currency. We need to start
spending this currency more wisely.
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