Archived Story

Editorial: Oct. 1 manhunt was unlike most

Published 8:16am Tuesday, October 8, 2013

We are not ones to pretend we know law enforcement better than the men and women who work in the field. We have a great working relationship with many law enforcement agencies.

However, in the interest of the safety of our readers, it our duty to comment the Oct. 1 manhunt near New Richland.

The New Richland Police Department that day sought the public’s help in finding a man who had a felony warrant out for his arrest. It correctly released the license plate of his automobile, the make and model and the fact he was south of town, but — and we cannot figure out why — the department didn’t release his name.

Disseminating a name aids the public in figuring out who the bad guy is and making the proper calls to authorities. It also helps people stay away from danger. Plus, names lead to more tips. A call to a dispatcher might be: “He’s my brother’s buddy, and I was told he has been sleeping on a couch in Matawan.” That sort of call doesn’t happen with just a license plate.

Moreover, in the following days, with the man still not found, it was difficult for our reporters to reach anyone in that department.

It’s not as though we expect to be the top priority, but we’ve been doing this long enough to know that law enforcement often uses the media to aid in its mission. We simply wanted to help, to do our jobs. And our website gets word out fast. Our local police officers or sheriff’s deputies would have called us back, and, if there was some reason to withhold information, they would have explained to us why and we would have been fine with that. That’s professional.

Not releasing a name and then not returning calls, that seems like a rookie error.

Let’s hope for the sake of public safety we won’t see another manhunt handled like this one was.