Watchdog role can have teeth

opinions

March 17, 2010 - 12:00 AM

In observance of Sunshine Week, the Register commends area city and county officials for their cooperation with the press.
Most times we’re on friendly terms. We feel comfortable calling any one of them, confident in an honest answer.
The purpose of Sunshine Week is to show the importance of public access to government do-ings and to hold those elected accountable for their actions.
That’s why as a newspaper we often serve as the public’s eyes and ears by attending county and city commission meetings, board of education meetings and college trustee meetings. If your taxpayer dollars are on the table, we do our best to report how they are managed.
We also report on police and sheriff department activities. It mostly invol-ves ugly news —  cases of domestic violence, drug abuse, alcohol-related of-fenses, theft and other tra-gedies of lives unraveling.
The purpose is not for humiliation, but illumination. We do not live in a Pollyanna world. Knowledge of a habitual drug or sex offender, for example, can warn people to steer clear.
On the flip side, reporting actions by law enforcement officials ensures that those with power don’t abuse it.
When Iolan Chance Shrum died a few years back after being Tasered by Iola police, you can bet that made the force review its use of the device. Having the story out in the open helped shed light on the dangers of the weapon and of its proper use.

THE REGISTER takes its watchdog role seriously.
The Freedom of Information Act is one to be cherished by all Americans. The more it is used, the more light will be shed on the truth.

— Susan Lynn

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