The Police Beat

According to Melvin Mencher, if your a reporter on the police beat, the the areas you cover are crime, accidents, fires, departmental activity, departmental integrity and other law enforcement agencies. In the U.S., there has been a decrease in crime overall, probably due to the implementation of the “Disorder Theory”. This means officers pay attention to crimes even if minor, like teenagers loitering or low music. Officers frequently find that these minor offenders often have arms and or are wanted for past offenses.

Diana Sugg of “The Sacramento Bee” describes a daily day in her job covering the police beat. She would start off by visiting the sheriff’s station followed by the police station. She would flip through up to 200 reports a day, focusing on the most interesting stories. For example, a 45 year old teacher murder often gets more attention than if the murder was a 45 year old unemployed man. She then goes to the newsroom to see her editor to determine which stories are worth pursuing. While she takes a break, if anything is to happen, she rushes to the scene of the incident. While on the scene, she finds that neighbors are often the best sources. Your especially lucky if you find a busybody who has the scope on all her neighbors. While the quotes would have to be checked over, there great to have.

Journalists should take cautions in many occurrences, such as identifying a suspect. There have been many cases when a eye witness is taken into custody to police to obtain information, only for a reporter to say that they are the probable perpetrator.


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