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What Needs Reporting When Running Police Reports?

EG Patch reassesses its police log reporting.

The email writer was distraught. He had heard that notice of his arrest was listed in the , but he was adamant that that he had not been arrested.

I checked the log, which had been posted just hours earlier.  Indeed, the unhappy emailer was listed as having been “arrested” by the police after being stopped for speeding. The police had run his license, found that it was expired and issued him a summons as well as had his car towed.

The police classify this violation as an arrest, as opposed to their two other classifications: offenses and accidents.

But is an expired license really an arrest? And, is it fair to list a man or woman as having been arrested because the police classify expired licenses as an arrest?

Technically, we did nothing wrong. But when I read that email, I didn’t feel as if we had done right either.

The disclaimer at the top of the arrests from the police log – “An arrest does not indicate a conviction” – tries to level the playing field a bit but, the fact is, the word “arrest” carries a lot of weight.

The situation made me think once more about the policy that was in place when we were my02818.com: the Police Log then listed no names at all, just the person’s street (if from EG) or city or town. More than a few people complained that they wished we would print the names of those arrested.

It is Patch policy (EG Patch is part of a network of more than 800 Patch sites around the country), however, to print names of those arrested, along with that disclaimer.

But cities and town police departments don’t necessarily include expiration violations in the reports available to the press. EGPD does and we print them. But from now on we will distinguish between those arrests that involve a detention and those that result in a citation or summons. It seems only right.

Mark Thompson July 10, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Sounds like a good call.
Abcdefg July 11, 2011 at 01:10 AM
It's sleezy to even have this in the patch. When i first became a user, I felt like a voyeur when I read this section. I have vowed never to read it again. It's just creepy that anyone would ask to keep it.
Class of 98 July 11, 2011 at 04:39 AM
How is it creepy? I want to know if there are criminals in my neighboorhood. And what's the big deal about it being on Patch? Newspapers and other websites report it as well.
Sarah July 11, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Ms McNamara, you may not want to admit you are doing anything wrong but publishing damaging information without fulling understanding its nuances is irresponsible at best. Mortality may not be a priority with Patch, but it does not seem right that you exploit the police report in order to sell more ads to Match.com. The authorities know who did what, and it should be up to officials in the next stage in the law enforcement process to deliver fitting punishment, not an inexperienced Patch editor.
Mike Bottaro July 11, 2011 at 05:43 PM
On one hand, there is public interest in police information that is public information. The term "arrest" is defined by Black's Law Dictionary tro simply mean "The apprehending or detaining of a person in order to be forthcoming to answer an alleged or suspected crime." But I also agree that the term "arrest" has a negative connotation in our everdyay usage to the average citizen. So, your solution seems reasonable to me.
Heather Larkin July 11, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Patch's job is not to ensure that no one is embarrassed, it's to let the community know what is happening around them. I think we are smart enough to understand that an arrest for an expired license is vastly different than an arrest for drunk driving without a law degree. And don't forget that in a town this size, even when names are omitted if streets are included, if that person is even at the edges in your particular orbit you figure out who it is.

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