It’s not what you know that counts,
it’s who you know. Right?
Depends, of course. Connections open
doors, no question about it.
But in the case of police reports published
in The Saratogian, who you are and who you know don’t matter.
This post is prompted by three
unrelated items concerning police reports: recent calls to Sound Off about an
unidentified driver, a story involving the relative of a local government
executive, and requests to delete arrest reports from the website.
First, let me say that I give calls
to Sound Off all the credibility that anonymous comments deserve. But we do get
story ideas and tips from the call-in line, and once in a while a question is
raised that warrants an editor’s response.
That was the case concerning the
report of a man who drove his Corvette into Saratoga Lake.
The man’s name wasn’t immediately
available from the sheriff’s department and he refused to give his name to the
reporter, who made a rookie mistake by writing that he asked to be anonymous. That
phrasing understandably left some readers scratching their heads. One caller’s
message said in part: “If that was just a usual person, their name would be
printed. Is it because he has a lot of money or is he a big shot in the city of
Saratoga Springs and doesn’t want to be embarrassed?”
we followed up on the story during the week, subsequently publishing the driver’s
name and the charges: speed not reasonable and prudent, failure to keep right
and reckless driving. The charges were violations, which ordinarily don’t make
it into the police blotter, but a Corvette doesn’t ordinarily land in the lake.
modified the wording in the online story to eliminate the erroneous impression
that all you have to do to not get your name in the police blotter is ask. We
discussed the wording among reporters and editors, because, regrettably, a
similar issue arose a while back.
commenters wanting The Saratogian to publish where the Corvette driver worked:
that would be inconsistent with our rule of thumb to not publish a defendant’s
place of employment unless it seems relevant to the story. Likewise, whether to
specify a person’s relationship with someone well-known depends on the
circumstances. A recent ongoing case passed the test when the town judges and
district attorney all recused themselves from a felony burglary vandalism case because
of their professional relationship with the teenage defendant’s father.
not least, every so often someone whose name was published in the police
blotter asks that the arrest be removed. Here’s our guideline: If the defendant
provides a disposition from the court showing that the charges were dismissed,
we will likely remove the item. If the case was resolved in some other way and
the person asks that the story be updated to reflect, for instance, that the
case was pleaded down, we will gladly accommodate by updating the online file. Except
for those cases, published blotter items remain online.
The only sure-fire way to stay out of the police blotter: Don't get arrested.