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Monday, January 22, 2007

Commentary: More Thinking About the Police Audit

For those who did not catch Debra LoGuercio's column in yesterday's Davis Enterprise, it is worth a read if you haven't already turned your paper into compost. LoGuercio is editor of the Winter's Express, also owned by the McNaughtons.

LoGuercio really questions what we learned from this study that has been given coverage across the state from the non-profit group Cal-Aware. I have never directly submitted a public records requests with the Davis Police Department, but I have with the city and requested information from the Police Department with City Clerk Margaret Roberts and I have always been treated fairly and received the information I have wanted.

The most pertinent portion of her column though relates to our article that we ran on Sunday, January 14, 2007 that dealt with the handling of the story by the Davis Enterprise and tip off (claimed to be inadvertent) by Debbie Davis. If you haven't read the story there is a good response from Davis Enterprise reporter Cory Golden who was the reporter who conducted the audit. My major concern with the handling of it was that I believe the test should have been invalidated when Davis Enterprise Editor Davis tipped them off--hey mistakes happen, we understand that. But they continue. Interim Police Chief Steve Pierce then is quoted as saying his department would have handled it the same way, despite questions raised by the reporter himself in his notes to that effect. And the Davis Enterprise article never really illuminates all of this.

LoGuercio writes:
Some local police departments fared better. Dixon got an A-minus, Davis scored a B-plus, and Winters a B. However, not only was the Davis Police Department inadvertently tipped off about the audit, their "average citizen" was a familiar Davis Enterprise reporter. Big, fat cheaterheads. Davis should've gotten a zero and been disqualified. On the other hand… they cheated and still only got a B-plus? Losers. Elsewhere, Fairfield scored a solid F, while Suisun and Vacaville less-than-failed.
So let me get this straight, the police department that happens to be tipped off, also gets one of the higher grades. Now in fairness, again, Golden points out that in fact, a number of departments around the state figured out what was going on and still rated very low--which makes you all the more concerned.

Nevertheless our concern from the start was the lack of public accounting of this story--when you read the Enterprise it is more of a whitewash of the event buried in the middle of the story and without the background which should truly concern the average reader.

--Doug Paul Davis reporting