Over the last year, I have pondered the reports of crime (major, minor, public and domestic) in the Watertown Daily Times. It seems to me that Northern New York is a less law-abiding place than when I grew here 50 years ago.
As I searched for trends, I kept reading in the Times about Fort Drum men being arrested for a whole variety of minor crimes. My first thought was that there are a lot of young military dependents getting in trouble with the law, since other Times news stories invariably wrote about Fort Drum soldiers going about their normal lives. Then I realized that many of these so-called Fort Drum men were actually soldiers being turned over to the military authorities.
With time a dichotomy in the Watertown Times became apparent. Fort Drum men terminology bad story. Fort Drum soldiers terminology, good story or the rare really bad story. It is not clear if there are many Fort Drum men who are not soldiers.
The Times had several explanations including we dont publish about the professions of folks who have misdemeanor or DWI arrests (unless they are in the public arena) and we dont have the time and money to check out the status and unit of every arrested perp with a Fort Drum address. Seems to me that active duty soldiers are in the public arena.
My suggestion is that the authorities timely publicize the arrests of active duty soldiers and that the media describe those soldiers accurately, including rank and unit. At worst, that would be a real deterrent to future bad behavior, as no commanding officer wants members of his regiment publicly singled out for alleged illegal activity. At best, it would be good who, what, where journalism.
In fact, I wonder if the shoplifting arrests constantly reported at Northern New York stores might diminish if the perps local affiliations were published, rather than some distant home addresses.
I invite dialogue about this letter on the Times website, in the area marked opinion. It is an enlightening (if underused) tool to share ideas.