With information, timing is important

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By Staff

Getting information to the public about crimes, accidents and emergencies of various kinds will always be challenging to law enforcement. On one hand there is the real public interest in such matters and on the other hand the need for making sure the information released is accurate and does not compromise an investigation.

Timeliness counts when the information concerns public safety or enlisting the public’s help in addressing a particular crime or situation. The system currently being used by the Bardstown Police Department works most of the time but not always. When an incident occurs that is believed to be “newsworthy” a press release is prepared by the officer involved, reviewed by a superior and then released to the media.

Saturday morning a strong armed robbery occurred at one of our local motels. Information about the suspect was given including a physical description and the direction he fled from the scene — material which might have been useful in generating some public leads.

The press release then sat for more than 48 hours in the inbox of the officer in charge of approving the release. The fact the robbery happened on a Saturday morning should not have meant more than two days passing before the release was sent.

Weekend standard operating procedures should be reviewed to improve the way the system works. It will never be perfect but it can be made a lot better.

The concept of communicating to the public by press release dates back to the time of City Administrator Ed Meece and although providing maximum control can get in the way of informing the community on a timely basis. Police Chief Charles Marksbury says he is working with the Dispatch Director to streamline the process of information dissemination. Keeping all operations of government as transparent as possible should always be the goal of any publicly funded agency.