Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

A record of Distinction?

Uhm, this week the Times broke, no smashed, the record number of mug shots in a single issue. Currently, 50+ people are featured in the Law & Order section beginning on page C-1.

There would have been one less if only I succumbed to pressure from  a Miyarne Nash, who told me I did not have her “legal permission” to use her mug and story in the paper.

Every week I get at least one call from a person either threatening or conjolling me to keep them out of the paper. I tell people right up front that,   since the inception of this paper and the Law & Order section, we have not and cannot leave out any arrest or photo we obtain. First, it is our policy, so we are not accused of picking and choosing. Second, we would lose all credibility with the police agencies if we failed to report  all the arrests and pictures, not just some.

I have even refused requests by police officers to leave a acquaintance out of the paper. The only reasons an arrest may not make it in the paper is if police agencies request the information be withheld for an on-going investigation. Also, occasionally, we miss a report if the reporting agency does not issue a release or statement. Maybe, over the years we missed a few due to human error, but rarely.

I also get calls form people saying we got the facts wrong. Human error, maybe, but remember, we get the reports off what police supply us. We are glad to make corrections, but few people want their stories to appear again.

We always offer to print court results, if they are supplied to us.  Courts usually do not supply that information and many cases are reduced down from the original charge. Again, people would rather have no more publicity. We also get the naive people who think we should only print final settlements in a case. Imagine if your nightly news media could only report the final verdict of a theft, shooting, whatever. An arrest today may take months and even a year or more to make it through the court system.

Police agencies often tell me the very first thing out of a defendant’s mouth is” “Will my picture be in that paper?”

I work pretty hard and become quite an annoyance to the police agencies in running down mug shots that are missing when a story comes in. It takes up a good part of my chores at the paper.

I am always surprised at the stupidity of people who make a brimming smile, or make faces for their police mug shots. I am also amazed at the sheer number of idiots who have permanent facial and neck tattoos emblazing some name, or stupid graphic.

By the way, never annoy me when calling in to question mug shots and stories in general. Be polite and I will respond in kind. Get nasty, threaten to get a lawyer, and I slam the phone down. No, you cannot sue me for printing police mugs and stories. Don’t bother calling your court appointed lawyer claiming your civil rights have been violated. If it is a public document, photo, whatever, we have the right to access and print it.