The Saratogian’s report last
week about two arrests initially omitted from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s
Office public blotter raises questions about whether the department treats all
citizens fairly and consistently.
Two missing arrests over six
months aren’t earth-shattering. But they are disconcerting.
It’s impossible to tell
whether these were two isolated incidents or two examples of an ongoing
practice in which law enforcers pick and choose whom to protect from public
The department’s explanation
in both cases regrettably suggests the latter.
The first incident was the
omission of a felony charge against the then 17-year-old son of the top county
employee. The department asserted that their usual practice is not to include
cases against 17-year-olds, although a review of their blotter indicates otherwise.
The second was a DWI against
a Clifton Park man who, we were told, had asked for a reprieve from the public
blotter in which all arrests are supposed to be posted. We could only speculate
what connections he might have had to obtain this favor.
When a reporter asked the
undersheriff about the missing report, he said it was in the book. However, in
photos of the pages in the book taken by the reporter weeks prior, it is easy
to see through one press release to the release beneath it. The press release
in question wasn’t originally there.
If there’s a reasonable
explanation, the sheriff’s department hasn’t offered it.
We all make mistakes.
We in the newsroom make
errors and bad judgment calls, but our intentions are to be fair and
Once in a while a caller
will ask on behalf of themselves or a friend or relative that an arrest not be
published. The request is often sheepish, sometimes pleading, rarely demanding.
Anyone of us could be walking in their shoes, and I usually feel for them. But
I never accommodate them.
We don’t go out of our way
to dig up an arrest, but we also do not intentionally skip over any arrests we
normally report. Doesn’t matter who the person is, who they’re related to or
with whom they do business.
I remember as a rookie
reporter overhearing the cops reporter handle occasional requests to keep out
their arrest. “Sure,” he would say. “Just come over to sign the form.”
“Yeah,” he’d explain. “The
one that says you’ll promise to support me when I’m fired for playing
To retain the trust of the
community, we in the news business must be diligent about owning up to mistakes
and correcting the record.
The same goes for those in
Barbara Lombardo is
managing editor of The Saratogian. Her blog, Fresh Ink, is on www.saratogian.com.