This is a highly unconvincing piece of journalism. The print version, splashed across the front page with a dramatic photo of gun-toting police officers, suggests that Liberty Township is under siege. A close reading of the story and statistics proves nothing of the sort.
Most striking is the fact that violent crime went DOWN significantly in Liberty from 2006 to 2010. This gets passing acknowledgement, but apparently does not warrant further investigation.
The rates by which crime in other categories did increase are certainly not welcome, but are by no stretch alarming. Thirty-four more "drug-related" crimes in 20010 than 2006? Is this truly a statistically significant number? And what is a "drug-related" crime? One guesses it might include a teenager caught with a small amount of marijuana during a traffic stop. A crime under current law, of course, but evidence of a rising crime wave?
The article cites thirteen more "trespassing, burglary & robbery" crimes in 2010 than 2006. Again, statistically significant? A rising crime wave? The article provides no context or evidence.
Readers are treated to a "you are there" account of officers entering an abandoned apartment in Northgate, only to find remnants of personal belongings and "drug paraphernalia." This was the implied "raid" depicted in the sensational front page photo. If this relatively harmless incident was the best the Liberty Police could produce for the ride-along with the Vindicator reporter and photographer, well, that speaks volumes about the urgency of the crime wave afflicting Liberty. One wonders if this incident was added to the tally of 2011 "drug-related crimes."
Finally, the article mentions only Northgate as an example of a crime-ridden area of the township. Are there others? If so, where? Again, the headline and front page photo suggest the entire township is endangered. Where's the beef?
Obviously, crime at any level is a serious problem for any community, Liberty included. Budgets for public services are regrettably being slashed everywhere, including that of the Liberty Police, as cited in the article. But here we arrive at the crux of the matter. With a 2-mill police renewal measure on the November ballot, it seems obvious that the Liberty Police wish to paint as a dire a picture as possible in order to prod (scare?) voters into supporting the measure.
While there should be no debate about making sure the police have everything they need to perform their duties (vote for the renewal!), scare tactics are another matter. In this case, those tactics have besmirched a community already struggling with the recession and steadily sinking property values.
The Vindicator has allowed itself to become a willing partner in this misguided endeavor, doing further damage the once venerable Liberty Township.
A case study, perhaps, for journalism schools wishing to teach how the profession should not be practiced.
October 10, 2011 at 2:28 p.m.