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Newspaper reflects community

It may look like a newspaper, but The Jessamine Journal is actually a mirror, reflecting all aspects of the community — positive and negative — and bringing these into the public light.

The picture isn’t always flattering, but it is reality.

The Journal staff has received lots of positive feedback when it comes to recent changes in news content but, by far, the most controversial change has been our decision to print and share on social media more detailed crime reports than we have in recent years.

Law enforcement agencies and concerned citizens have thanked us for it but some readers have concerns that likely stem from misunderstanding the motivation and the process.

First, we print a list of all arrests filed by the Nicholasville Police, the Jessamine County Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmore Police Department. We also pull out brief stories of the more serious offenses and include arrest photographs. These typically run in black and white on page A4.

Which arrests become stories isn’t arbitrary or the newspaper playing favorites. We use some standard criteria to choose police reports that involve felony charges, violent offenses, the drug epidemic that is plaguing communities across Central Kentucky and any other crimes that create public safety issues.

Our intentions also seem to be misconstrued. The goal isn’t to shame anyone. In fact, printing these isn’t about the person arrested at all. Our decision is about the rest of our citizens.

Public awareness and safety is our number one concern. Individuals who take drugs or alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car are placing the public at great risk and forfeit their right to privacy when it comes to these offenses.

Many of the reports involve motor vehicle collisions, individuals being intoxicated or on drugs in public places or creating other safety hazards. Ask anyone who has lost a loved one to a drunk or drugged driver if they feel it is “just a mistake.”

Also, residents have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. Arresting, incarcerating and moving individuals who break the law through the court system costs the county millions of dollars each year.

This is money that could be better spent on so many other things but law enforcement has no choice but to continue to allocate valuable resources in the fight against drug abuse and other crimes.

So many great things are going on in Jessamine County. Last week we featured 18 stories and 28 photographs highlighting some of these including a public servant reflecting on his career, a fundraiser effort by students to help cancer patients, a teen who doesn’t let a so-called disability slow him down and much more.

This week is no different.

But we refuse to bury our heads in the sand and allow criminal behavior that impacts the public to be chalked up to “just a mistake.” That’s the type of enabling and lack of accountability that perpetuates a vicious cycle.

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there is one.

Don’t like what you see reflected?

Then let’s work together to make positive changes in our community. But don’t blame the mirror.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at mike.caldwell@jessaminejournal.com.