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franklin county times

Telling a story isn't always easy

By Staff
Last week my column was about caring for my sources and getting to know them as people instead of information pumps.
This week, I learned that one of those people I have come to care for was accused of breaking the law. He was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance.
We ran the story on the front page just like we would have had it been anyone else. But, I can't say it wasn't difficult for me, as a person, to report something bad about someone I know on a first-name basis.
As a reporter, I knew the story was huge, and it would need to be our lead story for the day.
In the end, I did what I had to do, and I'd do it again. The officer is accused of breaking the law, and it is my job to report such things because the public has the right to know. This is not the first time an officer has found his face on the top of our newspaper for such an instance, and, unfortunately, it probably won't be the last.
I am an optimist, and call me crazy, but I like to think that people in charge of enforcing the laws shouldn't break them. Or maybe that just makes me naive.
Regardless, it's upsetting to see someone who has been a long-time member of the law enforcement community prove that our trust in him as an official has been misplaced.
Does this mean all police officers are bad, and can't be trusted? My answer is no. The fact that the police chief didn't try to hide that one of his department's officers might have broken the law is a testament to that.
He could have looked the other way.
He could have hidden the arrest from the media, but he chose to arrest one of his own officers, and no effort was made to hide that fact from the public.
I know doing the right thing was difficult for the department as much as it was for me to report it – probably even more.
I want to congratulate the Russellville Police Department for handling this matter so quickly and being honest with the people about what happened.
It was the right thing to do, even though it turned out to be painful to the department.
I hope that you, our reader, can see that the police are here to catch people who break the law even if it means arresting one of their own.
That fact is a testament to the character of the chief and the rest of his department.