Police Beat – The Point ? [Opinion]
Let me preface this by saying I back the police 100 percent. My neighbor is a Bangor police officer, and when he goes out on duty, I worry about him. He has two small children, and a wife, and being a police officer is a tough, tough job. I remember going on ride alongs when I was a Bangor city councilor, and police often deal with people at their lowest point in their lives, when they're in trouble either through their own faults or at the hands of others, and I am convinced 99.9 % of the time, do it professionally and compassionately.
My issue is with the media, and the so called need to report all the crimes. I get it, though, police beat crime reporting is often the most looked at stories, and digital managing editors love the fact that they have page views. Crime sells newspapers, it gets eyeballs. But at what expense? What about the individuals who have made a poor choice, or their families? Look I understand it you say, well they're over 18, serves them right, and you pull out the old "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time" saying on me.
But, really, is there a need to publish the names of 18 year olds who were caught at an underage party? I'm not condoning it, but I'll tell you when I moved to the United States from Bermuda back in 1978 heading off to college, I know I drank before I was 18, and the drinking age back then was 18 years old. I know I had beer, I bought beer, and didn't go beer-less from September - December when I turned 18. Interestingly enough, July 30, 1984 marked the day when Congress passed a law that withheld federal highway funding from every state that continued to allow people under 21 to buy alcohol -- effectively forcing them to raise their drinking ages. Those under 21 but over the age of 18 were grandfathered, and allowed to continue to purchase and drink legally.
I know most of the young adults, I want to call them kids, but they are over 18, that were arrested over the weekend in Ellsworth for drinking underage. I know the police officer who made the arrest. We talked about it briefly this afternoon. He was doing his job. God forbid these young adults had gotten behind a car and hit someone after drinking under the age. But is there a need to publish their names? These are good kids, yep, I'm calling them kids now, and I would be proud to have them as my own kids. Did they make a bad decision over the weekend. Yes, I'm not saying what they did was right, but is there a reason to publish their names? Their punishment will come from the courts, and they'll all be hit with a fine, that will impact them. A couple hundred bucks is a lot of money to a 18 year old. But do we need to label them with a scarlet letter on top of it, and also embarrass their families all so we can get more page views, sell more papers or get more viewers?
This website does publish stories of crime. Bank robberies, big drug busts, domestic violence cases, yes. Underage drinking... nope, not while I have any say in it. You would be right if you say, well Chris, you're just practicing censorship, and you should report all the news. I guess then my reply is, "Well, it's all the news that's fit to print or publish, and I don't think that reporting someone who was arrested for drinking under the age", when we have all done it, is reason enough.
That's my story. I welcome your comments, and I'll reply to them, whether you agree or disagree with me. Thanks for reading.