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Jail intake: If names are listed, they runPosted Friday, January 25, 2008, at 10:40 AM
It's time I discussed some issues around names in the Times-Gazette's jail intake further.
Up front: We DO NOT leave names out of the jail intake -- at least not on our end. The problem is whether we get them to begin with.
I'd like to strongly remind all those Bedford County officials and personnel involved with the jail intake releases (the same thing other area newspapers call "arrest reports" or "arrest records") are PUBLIC RECORD as defined by state law. Names are NOT to be omitted.
In the Dawn Bobo situation, I'm honestly not sure what happened, and I've tried to find out.
In the words of School Resource Officer Bob Filer: "I DID NOT take Ms. Bobo into custody and transport her to the Sheriff's Department. Ms. Bobo left Liberty School in her own vehicle and was sent home by school administration. Ms. Bobo has never been at the sheriff's office due to this case."
I highly respect Filer; he bears no blame for anything in how this has been handled.
Apparently charges against Bobo didn't involve having to post bond. Therefore, no jail involvement or intake listing.
If she'd been on the jail intake sheet we receive each weekday, her name would have been published -- and this has been discussed with the sheriff's department.
Let's get off the specific Bobo issue and to the jail intake in general. We have a strong policy at the T-G that no one's left out, as I explain several times a year to people who beg to be omitted.
But I've begun to become a little suspicious lately as to whether a very small number of arrests haven't been released by officials.
Last summer I received a tip that a local horse trainer charged in a "domestic dispute" had requested his name be omitted from the jail intake following charges filed through the sheriff's department. Later that day, I received a jail intake sheet with a name blacked out. Turns out the name was the individual in question.
I explained to sheriff's department administrator Larry Lowman that we can't leave out names just because someone requests it. Lowman made sure I had an amended sheet the next day with the name not only listed but circled in red ink.
Another situation arose last year where the stepson of a well-known local man filed charges against him after a fight. Accusations were made of his name being left out. I checked and found that the charges were quickly withdrawn before an arrest was made-- so the man never made the intake.
That's happened several times before with others: charges were dropped so fast nothing made it into the paper.
I got another jail intake sheet late last year with a name marked out by dark ink and was unable to get a definitive answer from personnel in the jail office.
Those who are sworn to -- or to represent those who are sworn to -- serve the public owe full disclosure of all names as part of their jobs. To do otherwise is a disservice to the public and should result in dismissal from their jobs. T
They may also want to search their own consciences as to the fact that special treatment for certain persons is flat out wrong.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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