Weekly Feature

2017-09-14 / Editorial

The public is owed a comprehensive blotter

Bee Editorial

While it’s not the reason we do our job, no one can deny that the weekly police blotter frequently pulls readers’ attention.

It is our mission here at The Bee to guarantee we do everything in our power to cover all aspects of the town, reporting diligently, accurately and fairly all news in West Seneca.

Recently, this has not been so easy.

Years ago, it was not uncommon for our staff to make a weekly stop at the Police Department Records Office and be presented with a book of more than 20 reports. These reports spanned all criminal activity that took place, and therefore we have a strict policy not to include distasteful reports, such as those involving youth, mental illness and domestic violence.

During the past year, the number of reports has dropped greatly, and for the past few weeks, we have been given no more than three reports — the new norm. Some have criticized the blotter for being “buffoonery” and making it out like police officers’ jobs are a joke. This is never our intent. We aim only to give readers a sense of what is going on around them so they can be armed with the knowledge necessary for self-policing.

Before, when there were a number of reports presented to us, we could tell people to watch out for, say, a streak of robberies from unlocked cars or telephone scams. Now all we can say is that it’s ill-advised to drive drunk in an unregistered vehicle. Shocking, we know.

We understand that recently the records office has been understaffed for a myriad of reasons, and as members of an ever shrinking industry ourselves, we get the stress of being asked to work harder, in shorter time and for less money. In an attempt to help this staff, we have changed our schedule to better accommodate the police officers’ system, and with the switch to printed reports, were hoping to see an increase in not only the amount received by our reporters, but also in the number of legible reports available for use.

Other editors on our staff are presented the option by their police departments to log directly into the online database for all police calls, which gives a detailed list of reports from the area, and take down these reports without being censored by outside parties.

The only action left for our staff to take is to begin filing Freedom of Information Law requests for police reports so that we may do our job fully, which will further tie up administrative time — something we have tried hard to avoid.

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