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From the desk of the Publisher

Opinion: Why we publish local crime stories

Any mayor will tell you that their most important obligation to the people that elected them is to keep them safe.

How safe do residents feel walking in the park at night? How comfortable is a business with entrusting local law enforcement to protect its employees and customers? Are my kids safe getting off the bus and walking home? Do people of faith feel safe worshipping as they see fit?

These are all important questions that we attempt to answer with our reporting on public safety issues in north Atlanta. Our intent is always to inform readers and hold local elected officials and public safety departments accountable to their constituents.

Every two years, you have an opportunity to elect new leaders on your city council or county commission if you think your current representation isn’t up to the task. If you don’t know what’s going on, or what public safety measures are falling short of expectations, then you are not equipped to make informed decisions come election time…or when its time to buy a house, send your children to school, park your car and go shopping, etc.

An informed decision will tell you who the best people are to staff your public safety departments and provide direction on what they understand are YOUR wishes and priorities for allocation of public safety resources.

So, for the most part, our focus as a newsroom has always been on felonies, violent crimes and crimes of opportunity.

And lastly, we publish the names of those arrested for DUI and Drug offenses.

That said, we also have some self-imposed restrictions on what we publish:

1) Generally we only publish names for those accused aged 22-or-older. Exceptions are made for especially alarming or violent crimes.

2) We do not publish the names of those accused of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana if that is the only charge.

3) We generally try to avoid publishing the names of those involved in domestic disputes.

These are not necessarily industry standards, but were developed by us after decades of public safety coverage, talking to hundreds of readers about it, and accounting for our own comfort level with the topic.

I hope this helps to explain our thinking and the purpose of our crime coverage. It is not to sensationalize crime. It is not to get more clicks on our website. It is to provide the public with a resource to make more informed – and safer – decisions.

As always, we are always open to feedback and ways we can improve.

Reach Hans Appen at 770-847-7205. Follow him on Twitter @hansappen.