COLUMBIANA – The city’s police chief is not pleased with an editorial that appeared in the Morning Journal recently, and took time during the City Council meeting Tuesday to address his side of the story.
The “In Our Opinion” editorial appeared in the April 6 edition and focused on the difficulty the Journal’s reporters have obtaining detailed incident reports. Reporters are given the police call log and additional information, like detailed incident reports, after specific request.
Gladis blasted the editorial, saying it was “unfair, incoherent, and filled with unnecessary hyperbole.” He also said he is aware of the state’s public record laws.
The laws give the media the right to request incident reports.
“We release everything we are required to release, talk to everyone we are supposed to talk to,” he said, and added that he is available by telephone even after hours for information requests. “We go beyond the minimum requirements to try to accommodate these requests. We take the calls, even though we are not obligated to.”
The chief has responded to all telephone calls from this reporter in a prompt manner and provided press releases regarding certain incidents, but has specifically stated that although state law allows for it, he is not comfortable with releasing names of victims, although the department will if asked.
That the requests have to be made in the first place is what separates the department from some others in the county that provide detailed reports to other reporters without any requests needed, according to editorial.
“I do agree with the editor with a couple of points. They are legally entitled to get this information. We always provide it, we don’t begrudgingly reveal it,” he said.
Gladis then produced a copy of the Journal with the Columbiana police reports highlighted in blue.
“Their own paper prints this stuff that we give them. I really don’t know how they can say we are withholding information,” he said.
(The information that appears in the paper is a combination of what is provided on the daily police log and information that was obtained by request of the reporters after reviewing the log. In most cases, the information provided only after request are names and addresses and traffic crash reports.)
As he has said personally to this reporter, he said again Tuesday, “I personally don’t like putting the names of victims, innocent victims, in the paper. We do comply with those laws and I disagree with the editorial.”
Gladis has also said, outside the meeting, he is concerned people will stop calling the police department simply because they do not wish to have their name appear in the newspaper.