Readers of this paper want their weekly police blotter back and they are letting cops know about it.
Sheepshead Bay’s Community Board 15 responded to the ongoing blotter blackout by penning a letter to the top cops at One Police Plaza last week demanding reporters be allowed back into the precincts that have barred access to crime report information for the last three weeks.
“The press should be allowed access so that the community can know what crimes are taking place,” said board chairwoman Theresa Scavo.
The Dec. 17 decision to send the missive garnered unanimous approval from the panel. One board member and longtime local activist cheered the move, saying that the police blotter helps him and his neighbors stay safe.
“The blotter is the eyes and ears of the community,” said Ed Eisenberg. “It’s one of the first things I open up to. And I read every newspaper.”
Eisenberg brushed aside the police communications department’s claim that it barred reporter access in order to protect confidential information about victims and witnesses, pointing out that this paper never publishes names in its weekly compilation of local misdeeds, only locations.
A community affairs officer at the neighborhood’s 61st Precinct said that the order to lock out journalists came from One Police Plaza and that he has no idea when or if the policy might change.
“That information comes from headquarters,” said officer Sam Shaya in reference to the restriction on reporter access to complaint form information. “They’re the ultimate bosses of all of us.”
Across the borough in Fort Greene, the blotter blackout came up at a Community Board 2 meeting, too, only cops at the neighborhood’s 88th Precinct deny that anything had changed, according to board member Charles Dubose.
A message left with the precinct’s community affairs office on Monday was not returned, but an officer there said on Dec. 17 that no new arrangement could begin to be made until commanding officer Scott Henderson returned from vacation on Dec. 19.
Eisenberg lamented the lack of a police presence at local civic association meetings, despite repeated invitations.
“If you want to open up a dialogue, you don’t do it by slamming the door in people’s faces,” he said, making it clear that he blames the department’s heads for the community relations freeze, not the local precincts.
“They’re between a rock in a hard place,” he said.
The police department’s office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information did not respond to a request for comment.