Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Unintended consequence of the Post’s “LINE OF FIRE”: Fewer arrests and an increase in the crime rate?

The blog post below is from June 2015. After watching a recent and very disturbing 60 Minutes episode about the murder rate in Chicago thought it might be time for some in the news media to ask themselves some tough questions. And communities all over Palm Beach County are already asking tough questions: How to better address crime and the interaction between law enforcement and the public? And of course, the heroin epidemic is affecting everyone in one way or another. What’s the best way to respond to that?

It’s not all bad news. There is some good news as well about the homicide rate in PBC last year. Look in the right-hand column for “109 Tragedies in 2015, 87 in 2016. In 2017. . .” The blog post from 2015 follows:

Everyone has heard or seen something and formed their opinions on The Palm Beach Post’s “LINE OF FIRE: Bullets and badges, death on the street!” It was nearly impossible to ignore the constant drumbeat. One particular Sunday paper stood out:

The headline could have been “Leaders Urging Calm”.

In the wake of Ferguson and Baltimore many communities are looking for answers. An article in The Atlantic titled “What’s Causing Baltimore’s Crime Spike?” takes on some very troubling issues. One excerpt stands out:

A widely read May 29 column by Heather Mac Donald tried to place Baltimore’s crime surge in a national context. Citing increases in crime in other cities across the nation, Mac Donald argues that what we’re witnessing is a “Ferguson effect,” as police get nervous about enforcing laws and criminals feel more leeway to, well, do some crimes.

People and communities can debate the “LINE OF FIRE!” any which way. But what if the result is ultimately deputies and police officers more concerned about their face on the news than on doing their jobs? Or would law enforcement, even without realizing it, avoid high crime areas and high-risk situations for fear a Post reporter is around the corner with a notepad in hand?

There are neighborhoods in the City of Lake Worth that have too much crime for many reasons and they deserve protection. The near constant anti-Sheriff stories in the news media purportedly done to give more protections to citizens may end up having the opposite effect: putting many in our poorest and most at-risk communities in even more danger.

No one is suggesting the news media be cheerleaders for Sheriff Bradshaw and PBSO. But it’s also not healthy for our community to have the media treating PBSO like an adversary. An editorial in the Post dealt with law enforcement biases; maybe it’s time the editorial board and the Post examine their own.

[Please note: The following three comments are from 2015 as well.]