MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — No doubt, the show is captivating. Mobile Police are in the national spotlight after being highlighted by national reality TV crews and the First 48.
Their cameras are apparent inside crime scenes, while local media is pushed to the other side of the tape.
Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste says they’re working with the show to give a peek behind the curtain that traditional media can’t provide.
“The difference with having the First 48 as opposed to having local media is the amount of time that can be put into it, the ability for you to tell the entire story,” said Battiste.
But that incredible access raises bigger questions about department transparency.
Brad Gunther is the assignment manager here at WKRG and our usual point of contact for information requests to MPD.
But he says more frequently that contact has been one way.
“Since August there have been five that have been ignored,” said Gunther.
We printed a tally of all of those unfulfilled requests in the past 5 months; in all over thirty pages.
Some were over serious cases like requests for video surrounding the shooting fatal of Michael Moore.
Other requests were more routine; include information on Brandon Gerard Scott who was recently arrested for indecent exposure for exposing himself on someone’s yard.
It was his third time being arrested for the offense. Three weeks ago we requested information surrounding his previous arrests.
“I think that we are doing everything we can to make sure that when there is a request that we are doing everything we can to work on the request,” said Battiste. “Sometimes when the request comes in we need to do things to make sure we are following our own protocol as it relates to releasing information.”
Alabama law says any citizen has a right to inspect any public writing, except expressly provided by statute.
Specifically in the case of law enforcement, such as records that would be detrimental to the best interests of public safety.
“That’s one of the roles that the media plays is getting that access as a watchdog over government. If we have this trouble getting stuff all I can see is the average citizen up against a bigger mountain,” said Gunther.