CLARKSDALE, Miss. — Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett is stopping the police department from sending daily police reports to the media.
The reports list crimes reported to Carksdale police, arrests made, and a message encouraging citizens to contact police with crime solving tips.
The mayor said he’s making the change because he feels not all the information in the report hasn’t been verified as a “real” crime.
“We need to go and investigate these matters to see if they can really be confirmed or verified or not,” said Luckett.
Luckett made it clear why he’s ordered Assistant Police Chief Robbie Linley to stop e-mailing daily crime reports.
The mayor said in his opinion, some of the reports are misleading and scare citizens.
Luckett said numbers of violent crimes are down in Clarksdale when compared to other cities in Mississippi, as well as in Memphis.
“We’re not hiding anything. We’re not covering anything up. But, to have a crime, we feel we need to verify that something really did happen, it wasn’t just a “call in” or rumor that was circulating or something of that nature,” said Luckett.
The mayor pointed out one crime report from July 28th showing five houses were shot into.
The information, as provided in the press release, was reported on WREG.
But the mayor said the report wasn’t accurate.
“Typically our police chief would have alerted me to something of that proportion going on in Clarksdale. Turns out there really two houses shot into and it turns out there were two guys shooting at each other, is what was really going on there. And a car was hit in the mix. But the word got out there were five houses shot into, when in fact it wasn’t really that way or exactly that way,” said Luckett.
The mayor said he also hopes the measure will prevent rumors from taking off like wildfire on social media like Facebook.
But Jesse Wright, publisher of The Clarksdale Press Register, said responsible journalists will now have more trouble getting day-to-day crime reports, and that may end up creating more problems than it solves.
“My fear is that Facebook will just run rampant with rumors about all the crime that’s not being reported in Clarksdale. And that can make our job harder, because I would hate to have to track down every single rumor. We will but it will make it harder in that regard,” said Wright.
Luckett said major crimes and arrests connected with major investigations will still be reported and the media can file Freedom of Information requests for routine police reports.
We tried to get a response on the mayor’s action from the Clarksdale Police Department, but so far haven’t had any success.