Thursday, March 15, 2012
Charlotte Observer Gives Rodney Monroe a Free Pass Surprised?
The Charlotte Observer's Cleve R. Wootson penned a little "fluff piece" with the headline "How easily can you access police crime reports?"
The story ran in this morning's paper.
It started off like a real investigative report, but by the fourth paragraph it became a smooze up to CMPD public relations piece.
Wootson points out that the department started putting the Significant Event Log on line in 2007. The Significant Event Log is a 24 hour report on major crimes that seldom offers much detail, rather just the basics as to what type of crime, what time and where.
What Wooston doesn't mention is that the reason the report was put online, was to disseminate basic information about crimes that occurred over night in a efficient and timely manner.
He also failed to mention that this same information is required by law to be made available to the public. Although he points out that the information is not required to be put on line.
Wooston continues with:
But, in 2009, the log abruptly disappeared from the police department’s website.
Police initially said it was being reformatted. But months passed and the log didn’t return.
Cedar's Take: The Observer fails to notice that this his how CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe rolls. The department has a clear history of lying until the truth is discovered by an outside source, then never bothering to explain why they lied.
When Wootson asked CMPD what happened to the SEL he received a statement that said the department removed the log to prevent inaccurate information from spreading.
Quoting CMPD's Rob Tufano: “The log was based essentially on real-time reporting, which meant that none of the information was vetted for accuracy or edited as the information changed over time,” “Follow-up investigations of a reported crime oftentimes results in the circumstances of a reported incident changing considerably.”
Tufano, as my grandmother used to say "Loves to talk out of both sides of this mouth."
And Wootson's failing as a reporter is amazing at this point. With the above statement Tufano admits that CMPD routinely edits and changes police reports. Something that the public has suspected all along.
That CMPD officers and duty captains are so incompetent that they can't be trusted to report crime correctly the first time.
Wootson points to the "crime mapping" system that is updated once a week as a good source for information about crimes.
What is lost on Tufano and Wootson is that the public wants the information in a timely manner. You wouldn't accept Bank of America only updating your account once a week, why should our Police Department pretend that they have a computer that is running on a DOS system when the taxpayers have shelled out millions for a state of the art computer system.
Then Wootson goes to Monroe supporter Patrick Cannon.
"City councilman Patrick Cannon, who chairs the council’s community safety committee, said the department and the city have received criticism from angry residents after something was erroneously reported in the significant event log. The errors are especially bad when they reinforce stereotypes about a particular section of town, Cannon said."
“That has happened for years, Cannon said. “You’d get painted with this broad brush.”
Cedar's Take: For years? Would that be since 2007? Or as I suspect years as in twenty or more years? I understand what Cannon is saying, when the public hears of a shooting they think black neighborhood, East Charlotte, Sugar Creek or Wilkinson Boulevard.
You don't even have to read between the lines, to understand what Cannon is saying. The truth is not always pleasant but this is not sudden perception brought on by the SEL, nor has it gone away with the removal of the SEL.
At this point the entire article goes off the tracks and jumps around the state pointing to how the police do it elsewhere.
The bottom line, sunshine laws require that the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department provide public access to police reports. Chief Stephens provided this access in a timely and unfettered way and Chief Monroe has drastically restricted this access.
The fact is the public has a right to know what is going on around them, no matter how unpleasant it may be. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has an obligation to inform as well as protect.
This issue of the SEL is about transparency not about inaccuracy.
The Charlotte Observer has simply rolled over on this one, and I suspect that they will roll over when CMPD begins to encrypt their radio transmissions, a change that will coincide with the DNC 2012.