I’ve had the opportunity to watch many of our city council proceedings of late, and I am concerned that there has been no discussion regarding the Sentinel’s request for the body cam footage from our police department.
As a taxpayer I’m concerned that if a valid request is not met the media may proceed with filing a law suit. If that step occurs, that will surely hit us in the pocketbook. I watch our council members struggle with stretching our budget to cover as many items as possible but they often times acknowledge that due to our finances not all undertakings can be completed. And yet, the letter written to the council by the publisher of the newspaper that was reproduced in the Sentinel, flat-out tells the council that the media has a right to the footage and the council should work to meet the request of the Sentinel-Press.
I assume that since the request has not been met, the council does not agree with the newspaper’s position. This is where I believe a discussion by council can help the taxpayer understand why they are not releasing the body cam footage. I believe we have a right to know, as it will be our taxpayer money going to a law firm to represent the city rather than that money going to: the dog park, street repair, downtown beautification, park maintenance, etc. You get the picture.
I appreciate the work our council members do and I truly appreciate their dedication to our community. I can say the exact same thing about our local newspaper. Both entities have rights and responsibilities. From their standpoint sometimes those responsibilities may not jive well together but from a taxpayer’s standpoint and as a citizen that wants to see this community thrive, these two entities have got to come to some agreement regarding this footage before our limited funds go to an out-of-town law firm.
* Disclosure: I was a member of the management of the Sentinel under its previous owners.