The Baltimore Police stopped releasing the names of officers involved in police-involved shootings. Personally, I like reading the names in the paper to see if it's anybody I know. Sure I could call up a friend and find out. But usually I don't. Odd are I won't know the officer.
I also know that if I had been involved in a police-involved shooting, I wouldn't want my name released. I'd have plenty to worry about without my name in the papers. Reporters love presenting "both" sides of the story. But for most police-involved shootings, there is no "other" side. Often, as hard as it is for some to believe, the police are simply telling the truth.
I wouldn't want to read about the bastard's mother saying what an angel her son was, at least since the last time he got out of jail for shooting somebody. I wouldn't want to read about "witnesses" (who weren't there) say how that white officer shot him in the back for no reason at all. No, I shot him because the S.O.B. was trying to kill me.
Yet names should be released. If nothing else, this policy isn't fair to officers who names are released. It leads one to think they're guilty. The department is being sued by one of them.
But what it comes down to for me is that deep down I strongly believe in the press (mistakes and all). My uncle was a newspaper editor before I was a cop. Before I ever held a gun I was raising hell writing for the Evanstonian, my high-school newspaper. You might believe in the Second Amendment; I believe in the First.
Freedom of the Press is listed in the First Amendment for a reason. As a free country, we need a free press. In a free society, police should be held accountable to the public. What's the alternative?
Read Simon's piece. He's a good writer. It'll make you think. And that good.
In an American city, a police officer with the authority to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to challenge any of it.Part of the reason this country is in such a mess right now is because not enough people know what's going on. They don't read newspapers. They don't know the facts. They're ignorant.
Talk radio and the morning zoo is not a recipe for a well-reasoned worldview. Even the best TV news is horrible (except for the NewsHour). Between the right blaming "The Media" for almost everything (the answer to media bias is more media) and the economic realities killing the newspaper business, I worry. A less powerful press is not good for our country or our freedom.