WCPO is looking for ratings during sweep week and they are upset that Chief Muterspaw and I wouldn’t participate in their gotcha journalism on area police departments.
The lead in for their story shows a great picture of me sitting at Council where Craig Cheatham shoves a microphone in my face and appears to be surprised that I’m not going to talk to him by ambush. I think the closed caption says “We’re not going to do this tonight.”
Let me expand. We’re not going to do this anytime we get microphones shoved in our faces to go on a witch hunt for Middletown employees. I don’t do interviews by ambush, and I don’t participate when media are looking specifically for ways to make Middletown look bad. This isn’t reporting news. It’s creating news from incidents that happened 1-3 years ago.
I answer to City Council and the residents of this community. Not to WCPO.
I hope when the story runs, the story will have extensive coverage of all of MPD’s activities including:
Last weekend’s Candy with a Cop, where Middletown Police Department and community partners distributed Halloween candy to young children too sick or disabled to go trick or treating this week.
MPD participation in Halloween without Heroin, where Police and the community joined together to meet, eat and share stories and solutions to the drug problem in Middletown.
Our quarterly Coffee with a Cop, where MPD, dispatch and jail employees meet with the community quarterly to update the residents on MPD activities and to answer community questions.
Chief Muterspaw’s outreach to area churches on Sunday mornings to discuss opiate addiction.
Chief’s ongoing quarterly meetings with local pastors to discuss how the religious community can partner with law enforcement to improve the community.
The great work being done by the MPD Citizens Advisory Board.
The extensive participation of the community in National Night Out each August.
Our series of community dialogues over the past two years with the African American community to discuss race relations in the city and particularly ways to collectively improve communication between MPD and the community.
The recruitment and expansion of our Neighborhood Watch program in Middletown.
The great work MPD has done as part of the Heroin Response Team, getting over 250 opiate addicted individuals into treatment over the past 18 months.
The great work MPD has done in reducing the opiates coming into the city with a 40% increase in felony drug arrests in 2017.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea….
Wouldn’t it be cool if we also reported on all the things MPD does right every day?
My guess is that you won’t see any of the above on WCPO as part of this story. That won’t win sweeps week.
Do we make mistakes? Of course. Chief Muterspaw has been the first to point out that as we handle so many things during the course of the year, human officers in stressful situations, will occasionally fail in their duties.
So let’s play the hand WCPO wants to play.
Let’s start with the definition of discipline.
That’s the goal. Behave appropriately. My guess is that the WCPO story will have little to do with training or conforming behavior to the rules. I could be wrong. You watch and see.
WCPO looked at several years of discipline records to get their story. I’ll just look at 2015 forward.
From January 1, 2015 through September 30, 2017, MPD responded to 108,409 calls for service. Those calls for service resulted in 17,060 arrests. During that time, the City received 38 citizen complaints against MPD. 8 of those complaints were found to be legitimate complaints with improper conduct by MPD in some fashion.
We definitely make mistakes. But according to our citizens, we don’t make too many of them. Using the 8 sustained complaints, we make an average of approximately 13,551 calls between sustained complaints. I’m not sure human beings in daily stressful situations can do much better. When it does happen, we use discipline where appropriate, to correct the behavior and to prevent recurrence of the improper conduct. Where appropriate, we also remove officers from duty.
My understanding is that WCPO wants to focus on two complaints they believe were not handled appropriately. That takes us to 2 incidents, more than a year old, in 108,409 calls for service in which WCPO believes we acted inappropriately. Said differently, using WCPO standards, even when we made mistakes that required discipline, we correctly handled 108,407 out of 108,409 calls for service.
See if the story tonight looks like that. 99.998% correctly handled, even when an officer was disciplined as part of a sustained complaint.
That doesn’t win sweeps week, I suppose. Is it any wonder that people are not lining up to be police officers anymore?