Why is the NYPD blotting out the blotter?

Brooklyn Currents | 12/16/2013 | 0 comments



Brooklyn Currents Editorial

Regular readers of Brooklyn Currents may have noticed that we don't usually place much emphasis on crime stories, unless they involve a significant trend or issue (as the recent rash of "knock-out" attacks).

We are nonetheless dismayed that local police precincts around Brooklyn have just now stopped releasing the daily blotters to local media, as the Courier-Life papers reported. This information has been given routinely to local papers  for the past 30 years -- starting long before Rupert Murdoch took over the Courier-Life chain and other papers in Brooklyn and Queens (interestingly, the New York Post, also owned by Murdoch, is still printing daily blotter information from precincts in the five boroughs).

Police spokesmen say the reason for the ban is to protect the privacy of victims and the innocent-until-proven-guilty rights of suspects. Aside from the strangeness of deciding this now, after three decades -- there is incredible inconsistency in this. Police and prosecutors have no problem publicizing the names of (adult) victims and suspects when it suits them.

Besides, Courier-Life, for one, has had a policy of not disclosing names in the blotter reports. And if police don't want to rely on newspapers' good will to protect subjects, how hard would it be for the precincts to black-out  the names on the reports before releasing them?

This is clearly a need-to-know issue. Neighborhood residents should be able to learn if particular crimes are occurring where they live.

We don't know why the NYPD has suddenly decided to plug-up the police blotters after so many years. We can only hope that incoming mayor Bill de Blasio, who professes to advocate transparency in government, will re-establish the police-blotter disclosures once he takes office.

We really can't see any reason for him to do otherwise.

                                                                                              --  David J. Glenn
                                                                                            

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