As police officers, we have a unique insight into the
media. We read the story the next day, but unlike most, we were there
when the story unfolded. And all too often, we’ve seen the media get it
terribly wrong or not get the whole story.
But our biggest complaint, though, would have to be
when newspapers print accusations against fellow officers or law
enforcement in general and never bother to challenge the accuser.
In following the saga out of Atlantic City where
the mayor suspended the police department’s K-9 unit due to supposed
(Read our current editorial on the situation) we came across a
The story we would have expected would have been
several paragraphs listing the mayor’s accusations followed by another
paragraph or two of more accusations by some local activist followed by
an obligatory one-sentence comment by the police department or police
However, what we found was the mayor being
challenged on his accusations.
A few quotes from the
Press of Atlantic City article:
The mayor said he pulled the dogs off duty
in response to his office being "besieged with complaints" about the
alleged misuse of the dogs. That order did not come with documented
proof of improprieties, nor did it offer any statistics regarding the
amount of official complaints related to the K-9 Unit.
But the only proof he offered to his
office's claims of widespread allegations were those made at recent City
Council meetings. He said every meeting features allegations about the
Although nearly every council meeting
includes at least one resident complaint about the Police
Department, most relate to claims of officers' excessive force and
few have specified problems with the dogs before Langford first
questioned their use.
This is a great example of – as Paul Harvey would
say - “the rest of the story.” Including these facts puts the
situation in a completely different light and allows the reader to draw
a more informed opinion.
We know that reporters have to write the story, and
we know that, often, we are the story. We don’t object to reporters
covering and printing accusations against us, and we don’t expect the
media to be our friend.
We just ask for what was done here. We just ask
for the whole picture.
Anyway, we don’t often write pieces like this, but
nice job to the Press of Atlantic City and reporter Michael Clark.