From the editor: A matter of fairness
January 16, 2018
In last week's column, I told you we were considering ending publication of the Moffat County Jail Report, I outlined the reasons we were considering this change and I asked for your thoughts and opinions on the subject.
To all those who responded, I offer my sincere thanks. The response was overwhelming, and while I received letters from readers on both sides of the issue, all were respectful, thoughtful and helpful.
I carefully considered everything everyone had to say, weighed the pros and the cons and, ultimately, arrived at a decision.
Effective immediately, the Craig Press will no longer publish the Jail Report, and during the next several weeks, we will work to purge all past Jail Reports from our website.
I know some of you will be disappointed with this decision and disappointed in me for having made it. But , in the final analysis, it came down to a matter of fairness.
As I explained last week, I've wrestled with the practice of publishing a blanket list of persons arrested in Moffat County when I lack the resources to follow all the cases to their conclusions and report on their dispositions. In my view, it is fundamentally unfair to publish such a list without also providing complete follow-ups, and even if I had the staff to carry out such follow-ups, I feel the time it would require could be better used in other endeavors.
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Of the letters I received in favor of continuing the Jail Report, the most compelling argument offered was that the people of Moffat County need access to this information to safeguard themselves and their property against criminal elements. In my estimation, the police blotter — which we intend to go on publishing — is much better suited to this purpose.
Some of you also pointed out that the Jail Report acts as a deterrent to crime and serves to hold those who break the law accountable for their actions. While I don't specifically disagree with this point, I must again point out that the Jail Report lists only the names of people suspected of crimes — not necessarily the names of those who are guilty of crimes.
As the newspaper of record in Moffat County, we take our responsibility to keep the community informed very seriously, and reporting on crime is a vital part of that role. That's part of the reason this decision was so difficult.
We will continue to report arrests for serious crimes, but we will only do so in cases we intend to follow and report on to their conclusions.
In addition to the daily police blotter, we will also begin publishing a monthly law enforcement wrap-up that will seek to identify crime trends in the city and county and localize where those trends are emerging.
Again, thank you for your feedback. I know this isn't the decision many of your were hoping for, but I hope even those who disagree with it will see and understand the motivations behind it.