In reporting on the police use of force in Jacksonville, a local TV station produced a shockingly one-sided product.
To begin with, the story was done by a so-called “investigative reporter.”
The investigation consisted of going to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office web site and downloading a report the department does annually.
In other words, the information is readily available to the public and requires no investigation to uncover.
Then, the contents of the report were slanted to make it appear that local police are brutally harming local citizens often and without good reason, under the sensational headline “Police used force more than 800 times last year.”
In fact, in 93 percent of the cases in 2019, the person injured was resisting arrest and the officers had to use force to overcome that resistance. In other cases force was used to protect someone else.
The report itself is titled “Response to Resistance.”
There was not a single instance reported where a cop found a citizen on the street and began assaulting him for no reason.
The story even had to correct itself.
“News4Jax originally reported 420 people were injured. Upon closer inspection of the report, there were 420 injuries, but 386 people injured.”
The vast number of the injuries reported were cuts, scrapes and bruises.
It also says:
“In 20% of 536 incidents, the suspect was armed with anything from their fists and feet to a firearm.”
That suggests 80 percent of those injured were unarmed and had nothing, including their fists, that could be used to injure the officer.
Actually, in 20 percent of the cases, the person resisting had a weapon – gun, knife or blunt instrument. In 100 percent of the cases, more than likely, the suspect had fists available.
The report says 77 police officers were injured by suspects resisting arrest.
It is not clear where the media gets the notion that criminals or suspects are entitled to resist arrest with violence, and are entitled not to be injured when they are attempting to injure officers.
An honest, objective story would have begun something like this.
“Statistics compiled by the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office and made available to the public show 386 citizens and 77 officers were injured in 2019 while suspects were failing to comply with police orders or resisting arrest violently.”
Instead, the story began with three paragraphs about people protesting and alleging widespread police brutality.
It isn’t until the 11th paragraph of a 15-paragraph story that it is revealed the vast majority of the injured people were injured while resisting arrest.
The 386 people injured, mostly with minor injuries except for those shot, were out of more than 800,000 interactions between police and citizens during the year. Nine people were shot, six of them fatally.
To its credit the TV station did include this paragraph: “For context, of 837,885 police/citizen interactions in 2019, 4.4% resulted in arrests. Force was used in 0.66% of all police/citizen interactions and in 1.5% of arrests.”
However, News4Jax also injected race into its story, even though it is irrelevant unless the reporter was trying to identify which race is more likely to resist arrest. When an officer is attacked by a suspect, he doesn’t respond based on the person’s race. He acts to protect himself and other citizens.
In cases where an officer acts wrongly, he is punished with punishments up to and including imprisonment.
With an element of society actively seeking to diminish police protection of American citizens, there is a greater need for media objectivity than ever before.