I won’t give a bunch of links to the stories and editorials, I think everyone is aware of the situation which arose about the Bossier City Police Department giving out what they called ‘misinformation’ about the suspected triple killer in the Bill Norris shooting case.
The police spokesman, Mark Natale, told the press that they were looking for a hispanic or dark skinned caucasian, when in fact they already had a suspect, Gerald Needham. The reason ultimately given for their misleading information was that they did not want Needham to know that they were considering him a suspect.
I have mixed feelings about this. First, I’m not in favor of the police lying in any case, for any reason. I don’t believe that the government or any agency thereof has the right to lie to the people, even with good intentions. It's a very slippery slope.
That being said, they weren’t lying to cover up something nefarious, such as the New Orleans PD did in the case of the people who were murdered by police on the bridge after Katrina.
I understand their reasoning, but personally I believe that if you have to lie, even a white lie, it is probably better to say nothing.
The attention that this is getting should be a wake-up call to the police department. Some local media people are very unhappy about this, and I can’t say that I blame them. They do try to assist the police by putting word out on major cases, and when they find that what they have been reporting to the people isn’t true, it is gives them pause and makes them doubt any future information.
I’m not outraged at this, or even terribly upset. I believe that it was a case of bad judgment, well intentioned.
Hopefully the next time they are tempted to do this they will realize that it is a matter of principle that they be completely honest with the people they serve. The Bossier City Police Department has a great amount of goodwill and support from the people of the city, and they don’t need to do anything to jeopardize it.