By: Chuck Caudill – General Manager/Reporter
One thing the recent political season has taught us is two people can see the exact same thing, and come up with two very different interpretations of what it says.
This happened recently, because of an article The Beattyville Enterprise recently printed regarding a report of possible police brutality on November 10, 2016.
In an effort to address the report, as the investigation was ongoing, The Beattyville Enterprise chose to write a story giving details from the report without intentionally mentioning the names or law enforcement agency involved. In fact, our choice to use photos of both local agencies, was to attempt to avoid speculation of who the officer or agency in question was.
The headline of the story was “Police brutality/unruly suspect?” That headline to me suggests there are two sides to this story. My sense, talking with local officials and officers, along with comments shared by members of the City Council in the Three Forks Tradition, suggests they felt only one side of the story was given and were blind sided.
For the record, I went to the Sheriff’s office and asked the secretary to have him call me about the report when he returned and to the Beattyville Police, where I was told, the acting chief had just heard of the issue and an investigation was ongoing, which we addressed in the article. We understood, this was an issue that had to be investigated while still doing their very demanding jobs.
There was no attempt to paint the person arrested as a saintly person, but instead identified them as having a “long rap sheet”.
As a former Chief of Security/Police at a Naval Station, I offered, since “good and honorable young men and women dedicated to upholding the law and keeping order in the community” were involved, community, if this was the issue, leadership and senior personnel had a responsibility to ensure they grow and become even better at their very demanding and dangerous profession after assuming the incredible responsibility and power to enforce good order and discipline.
I discussed the responsibility of suspects with regards to how they could make things easier on themselves and the officers.
The reality that sometimes, officers step over the line was also addressed, along with the very real issue of fellow officers having to weigh loyalty to the person against loyalty to the community in some instances. No accusation was made and none were implied.
To the Editorial staff, this was a story about the community having a voice, and the belief that law enforcement would have an investigation to get to the bottom of the situation.
This apparently was more than that to some in the community.
The Beattyville Enterprise received one call from City Council member, Jon Allen, requesting information about the agency and location of the incident that we gave freely along with giving the names provided by the witness of the alleged events.
There was no other attempt to get information from The Beattyville Enterprise, for the week prior to the city council meeting, and honestly didn’t know this was an issue of concern until we received a call from a representative of The Nolan Group, the newspaper owners in Manchester, local officials were upset and were considering possible legal action, because of the story.
While conducting interviews of local law enforcement, from both agencies, regarding the recent U-haul fire, I discovered law enforcement officials were upset by the story, and they expressed their hurt and concern to me in a professional and respectful manner. I truly appreciate their effort to explain their perspective.
At that point, I reiterated to them, the story stated the investigation was ongoing and it was goal of The Beattyville Enterprise to continue as a member of the community to examine issues in as impartial a manner as possible and would put the results of any investigation on the front page with equally big pictures once it was completed.
A discussion with Beattyville Mayor, John Smith, revealed he was satisfied with the internal investigation by Beattyville Police that nothing illegal happened. He reiterated, he takes any charge or concern very seriously.
The Beattyville Enterprise has not reached out to the Sheriff yet to see if they have conducted any kind of investigation, but will this week.
A recent discussion with the original person making the charge, revealed law enforcement did interview family members and possible witnesses, but still stands by the original story.
The Beattyville Enterprise will get as many details as possible from the local law enforcement investigation and provide them next week.
I have utmost respect for the leaders of this community who have chosen to take on the role of public officials and honor law enforcement personnel who take on an almost impossible task of maintaining good order and discipline where so many public interactions are unfortunately negative.
I will acknowledge, because it has been brought up by three different individuals I do respect, the use of the word “abducted” to describe the “capture” of the suspect, was far more harsh a word choice than I intended. The negative context this was an “illegal” seizure was not my goal, but I understand why they took offense to it. To them and the law enforcement officials involved, I do apologize for that.
Like the story in question ended, “We are all in this boat together and if we continue to address the problems when we are calm there is hope we will be able to solve some of the long standing drug, crime and fear issues that have crippled our community for decades.