Editorial: Arrest records and the dominos which fall…

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For as long as the newspaper industry has existed, issues have included arrest reports and incidents reported in the given area by the county sheriff and city police departments. To this day, it is a practice which has not changed. 

Well, maybe there has been one change…online news. Now, while a person’s name used to only appear in print for a day, those reports will be archived online forever. 

While most publishers do not like printing names and arrest offenses, it’s one of the few elements of checks and balances a newspaper uses to track trends.  

By following a month’s worth of arrests and incidents, you’ll notice patterns emerging, such as car thefts, burglaries, home invasions, gas station runoffs, elevated levels of domestic violence and a slew of others. These patterns tip off reporters and begins the news process which will alert the public, or to at least make known what is happening in the area. 

However, many people are first time offenders/arrestees and are caught up in the mix of names. As it states in our reports, a person is not guilty of a crime just because of an arrest. The paper is not condemning any person by listing the names nor is it a sign of guilt. 

Most may not realize that arrest reports are not only sent to news outlets by law enforcement but also to social services, the housing authority and many others requesting the public information.  

Arrest records are not something most newspapers and publishers are excited to publish, but it’s a community service which police departments and sheriff offices depend on in order to properly distribute the information.  

The Cullman Tribune has always had a standing policy that if a person is acquitted, found not guilty or has the charges dropped in full that we will update the records or if needed, will publish a story regarding new developments. 

However, we do not remove names from the reports unless it is requested by the sheriff or police chief with an explanation of the removal of the name, which in most cases, has to do with a person becoming an informant. This is not to punish people, but to keep fabric of integrity with consistent news reporting intact as those were the given facts when it was reported.  

I know many will disagree with this editorial but that’s OK, because I hate typing arrest and incident reports each day.  

I’ve had to type my dad’s arrest records, along with cousins, uncles and others associated with my family. Do they call and ask for me to remove their name in the paper? No. Why? Because they know the standards we uphold.  

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but The Cullman Tribune reports the news, including arrests and incidents, and will continue to do so as long as the printing press is running. 

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