"Police Did Not Have Detailed Descriptions Of The Robbers" And Other Fibs The Media Will Tell You
The local newspaper says that it's policy is not to sanitize crime stories to delete references to the race of suspects. I'll let you decide how well they followed that policy when reporting on something that happened in Wauwatosa the other day..
Tuesday morning, an 85-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint as he was walking to his bank in Wauwatosa. After the robbery, the criminal fled in a black Jeep Cherokee being driven by another man. The Journal Sentinel report of the incident concludes with the sentence: "Police did not have detailed descriptions of the robbers."
Having reviewed more than my share of police reports over the course of my lifetime, I found this lack of description to be somewhat unusual. I mean, the guy was robbed at close range in broad daylight. It's hard to believe that he didn't get a decent look at his attacker?
In any event, I contacted the Wauwatosa Police Department and was promptly furnished with a copy of the police reports concerning this incident. Here is the description of the robber that the victim provided to police:
"M/B [male, black], 20-25 years old, 5'10 to 5'11, 150-170 lbs, thin build, wearing a black do-rag, black hooded sweatshirt or coat, black pants."
The driver of the getaway car is described only as a black male.
Interestingly, the description of the incident available online through Wauwatosa Now contains a full description of the suspect as described in the police report. Go figure?
If the newspaper wants to make an editorial decision (for whatever reason) to withhold the race of the suspects in this armed robbery - fine. At the same time, short of knowing his assailant's name, it's hard to imagine how the victim in this case could have given a more detailed description than " black male, between 20 and 25, 5'10 to 5'11, thin build, wearing a black do-rag, black hooded sweatshirt and black pants"?
As I've written before, when people are apprehended and charged with crimes, I think their race is (as a general rule) irrelevant. However, it's materially different when the suspects are not in custody and the police are trying to alert the public as to who to be looking out for. In these situations, race is at least as important as age, gender or any other factor.
I'm told that there is a possibility that the two guys involved in the robbery Tuesday may have been involved in other recent robberies in Wauwatosa. As such, it seems to me that it's in the public interest to know as much about these robbers as possible. The local newspaper says that the police don't have detailed descriptions. As to at least one of the robbers, I think this statement is misleading at best.
Again, I know that the local newspaper says that it's policy is not to sanitize crime stories by removing the race of suspects. I'll let you decide whether they followed that policy in this case.
In the meantime, if you see anybody matching the above description driving through Wauwatosa in a black Jeep Cherokee - you might want to call police. My guess is that these guys are going to strike again - and it would be nice to catch them before they do!
It would also be nice if the media told people what to be looking out for!