Good Cops, Bad Cops?

Letters from the week of September 5, 2002

Man Down

Children should be seen and not heard: I have a hard time believing that something like this can go on in America ("Lost Hope," Amy Silverman, August 22)! This is disgraceful. Paul Hewitson's daughter should be put in jail, but not before she pays him all the money she spent of his. She certainly didn't do what she did to him out of love and she should not get away with it. Surely there is a lawyer out there who could help him get his money and his dignity back.

Christine Tighe
Via e-mail

Rotten deal: The poor soul has been railroaded. Money must be at the bottom of it. I wonder how much the daughter got from the sale of Paul Hewitson's assets. Methinks she's crooked scum and so are the rest of the cabal keeping him locked up.

Marc V. Ridenour
Show Low

Race Card

Police complaint: I was very disappointed in the content of your "Walking While Black" column (Robert Nelson, August 8). Our media relations unit provided you with the documentation you asked for, yet you made only scant reference to it. In e-mail exchanged with one of our public information officers, he offered to discuss the case with you when you came to pick up the reports, or allow you time to read them before discussing issues. You opted not to interview him, saying, "How about I read them first," which clearly implies you would interview him afterward. Yet he never received any further communication from you, verbal or otherwise. Although you quoted David James and Ginger Mattox, you afforded us no opportunity to present the police department's side.

David James was stopped because he was using an alley as a thoroughfare, violating a city code. Secondly, two houses on that block were known drug houses, whose customers used the alley to come and go when buying drugs. The officers had reasonable suspicion to stop and question Mr. James and determine if he was involved in criminal activity. Investigative detentions are a lawful tool that police officers use every day, throughout the nation. Citizens are not allowed to use force against officers to avoid such a stop, whether they agree with the basis for the officer's suspicions. If they do, officers are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to detain them. Mr. James' injuries are unfortunate, but occurred during his commission of a crime, as he was trying to escape the lawful detention of two police officers.

You mentioned that county prosecutors turned down charges against James, as if the officer's allegations were baseless. In truth, county prosecutors only turned down the felony charge of aggravated assault on a police officer, finding that James' actions more accurately constituted the crime of resisting arrest. The city attorney did file a criminal complaint on that charge, but you neglected to inform your readers of that.

I don't expect you to give credibility to only the police version of an incident. I understand that as a journalist, your code of ethics requires you to give the same validity to Mr. James' version of events as you do to the police version. Yet that same code of ethics states that deliberate distortion is never permissible and requires you to provide an opportunity to those accused of wrongdoing to respond.

Your bias in the coverage of this story is blatantly apparent. You present as fact and give credibility to only the statements of Mr. James and his advocates, but provide shallow details of the officers' accounts, and then dismiss them, without cause, as untrue. If you questioned these accounts, why not give the police department the opportunity to respond, as you said you would?

Quite simply, your reporting of this incident was unfair, biased, and fell short of living up to your own profession's code of ethics. You failed to seek the entire truth and to provide your readers a comprehensive account of this event. Certainly, there are varying descriptions of what took place. That is a common situation for a journalist to face, but most do so while maintaining their credibility -- their integrity -- with thoroughness, objectivity and balance. They adhere to a professional code of conduct which is the standard throughout the industry. Except, it would appear, at New Times.

Commander Andy Anderson
Public Affairs Bureau
Phoenix Police Department

Campaign Crisis

Wrong direction: Robert Nelson's assessment of the Democratic gubernatorial race ("Goober-natorial," August 29) was well-written and pretty much on target. It does appear that the Dems are intent on pinning their hopes on Janet Napolitano. I agree with Nelson that Napolitano is a lame candidate at best.

I disagree that Alfredo Gutierrez deserves to be the Democratic nominee going into the November general election. I consider myself one of the undecided Democrats entering the September 10 primary. I do know I won't vote for Napolitano. However, as much as Nelson would like me to see Gutierrez as the best choice, I see too many question marks about the former lawmaker.

Although he has been out of the Legislature for more than a decade, Alfredo Gutierrez is hardly an outsider. He continues to serve as a lobbyist and a strong union supporter in a state clearly devoted to remaining a "right to work" state. Gutierrez brags about his past record and his successes as a lobbyist, but seems unable to garner the support from unions such as AFSCME, which has endorsed Napolitano.

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