Police take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America as well as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts… and to enforce the laws thereof.
Also, in Massachusetts there are state and federal laws that protect the freedom of information and reasonable disclosure of publicly held records.
Across the country enlightened law enforcement agencies are enjoying the benefits of developing transparent organizations that work with the public for the greater good.
On Cape Cod, the Yarmouth Police Department stands out as a leader in developing exceptional relationships and ties to the community it serves by using social media and proactive press releases to keep the public safely informed…
In a recent interview with Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson, he summarized the philosophy behind his administration’s efforts to move toward a more open and transparent public safety agency by putting the truth out in an effort to maintain a calm partnership with the public, moving towards a positive result for all members of the community.
Chief Frederickson went on to explain that although “transparency” is a lot of work, it’s definitely worth the effort, saying, “It’s work I’m willing to do… and we want others to come forward…”
Frederickson sees the rewards of keeping businesses and the public informed as something that has and will continue to build strong partnerships, further setting the Town of Yarmouth apart as a leader because of proactive efforts to improve its image and overall “brand.” He’s currently seeing cooperation and unified support from the public that simply wasn’t there in the past.
And the fruits of the YPD’s efforts are also evident all over facebook as thousands of fans chime in regularly in response to departmental press releases, public safety announcements, and community events. For anyone considering moving to or simply visiting Yarmouth, such a cooperative, proactive, and friendly public safety agency would be a major selling point.
Which is why many people were shocked this past weekend after reading a Cape Cod Times article that publicized the complaints of a very small minority of business owners and a couple selectmen who would rather see the public kept in the dark about the sometimes negative details of what actually occurs in town on a regular basis.
It was an article that rubbed many the wrong way; first causing outrage and then what can only be described as a title wave of support for a police department seen by many as going above and beyond the call of duty.
At HyannisNews.com, I immediately became very concerned that some were trying to squelch and silence the well intentioned and successful efforts of our public servants. It is unusual and refreshing to see any publicly funded agency actually following the laws of the land by freely sharing information with the greater public so people can unite and proactively strive to solve problems together as a community.
I personally have always seen the truth as the best disinfectant. In short, a community needs to know the existence of problems before it can make an effective plan to make positive changes.
But despite a tremendous outcry of support caused by the original Times article, Chief Frederickson diplomatically emphasized his need to keep an open mind while listening to the concerns and complaints of all members of the community, regardless of whether those complaints criticize his departments current public relations policies or not.
In short, while interviewing Chief Frederickson it became quite evident that the YPD’s current policy of using social media such as facebook to reach out to all members of the community was right in line with his officers’ duty to align themselves with the oath they took just prior to being appointed police officers. One where they raised their right hands and made a solemn vow to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…. [to] fairly and equitably execute and enforce the laws thereof…”
Chief Frederickson and his officers work tirelessly to communicate, inform, and develop partnerships with the community. They are doing their duty in a manner which can only be described as exceptional and a credit to law enforcement and public safety efforts nationwide.
Which now leaves me with the task of delving into the erroneous mindset that seemingly wants to squelch and “tone down” the very popular and noble efforts of the YPD, one of the Cape’s lead agencies in terms of positive public relations.
So allow me to take you on a journey to a fictional place that I refer to as “Somewhere East of Mayberry R.F.D…”
Okay kids and campers, are we ready for journey back in time? Everyone get your marshmallows, join hands, and make a comfy circle around the campfire while I tell you all a heartwarming story….
Once upon a time, somewhere East of Mayberry R.F.D. there was a little tourist oasis in the sand named Yarmouth, Massachusetts…. where seldom was heard a discouraging word and the skies were not cloudy all day. A place so pristine that nobody ever died of heroin overdoses and crime was virtually nonexistent. It was said to be so safe, the police carried unloaded revolvers and “silly clubs” made of styrofoam! Everyone had high paying jobs and there was not the slightest hint poverty, homelessness, or discomfort. Everyone had ample time to spend strolling in the park, where they flew kites under the bright blue sky, amongst the cheerful dogs that amazingly got along with all the friendly cats! The weather was always fair and town government was beyond reproach. Every child was well adjusted, pimple free, amazingly cordial, and of exceptionally high intelligence. The restaurant fare was always delectable and tourists stayed in superbly maintained accommodations, relaxing safe havens, both fairly taxed and afford-ably priced. It was heaven on earth. Tour buses and seniors were also welcomed…
Sounds great right? There’s only one little problem… it’s obviously not anywhere near the truth.
And if Yarmouth ever tried to present this as their “brand,” they be telling the public a blatant outright lie.
The truth being that Yarmouth, like everywhere else in the Commonwealth, is a town with its share of serious drug and crime issues.
But according to the recent Cape Cod Times article, which addresses complaints by Dewitt Davenport, head of Davenport Cos., a major local resort and real estate developer, as well as certain Yarmouth selectmen, the town’s “Brand” is being tarnished by the police department’s sincere efforts to inform the public through social media and timely press releases.
And it’s unfortunate that in today’s day and age that I even have to write an article to address this issue. The issue of what amounts to an organized and possibly illegal attempt to hoodwink the public, by falsely advertising Yarmouth’s town brand to be something that it definitely is not at the present time…
… not to say that it cannot improve.
… and not to say that Davenport is purposely trying keep the rest of us concerned citizens in the dark, but you have to question his motives.
Because according to Davenport, Yarmouth Police shouldn’t willingly disclose information regarding such things as drug overdoses because he believes that it will cause potential tourists to question visiting the area…
… which implies he would like to see the police department lie about the current situation of high crime and drug overdoses by omission.
In other words, in terms of Yarmouth being a town “brand,” Davenport is essentially encouraging and endorsing false advertising…
… or in other words, the message implies we shouldn’t tell the ‘inconvenient truth,’ it might hurt our pocketbooks.
This all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
These tactics have been attempted before on the world stage throughout history, and it never works out too well.
Take the former Soviet Union… They used propaganda that hid the truth behind a facade of lies and deception, meanwhile millions suffered as nothing ever improved.
And let’s not forget our “friends” to the South in Cuba who wanted us to believe their information restrictive society was much better than it actually was… and many of us would have swallowed the lies hook, line, and sinker if it wasn’t for boat loads of suffering humanity washing up on our shores, a testimony to the way things actually were.
Jonestown Guyana , a highly touted utopian jungle paradise… overseen by the modern day “profit” Reverend Jim Jones, who wanted everyone back here in the States to believe things were perfect and hunky-dory… until U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan was ultimately ambushed and assassinated because he wanted to expose the truth, that people were being oppressed and held captive against their will. Ryan bled to death on a jungle airstrip, while the over 900 naive captives of Jonestown unfortunately drank the cyanide Kool-aid and perished in a grotesque fleshy heap of brainwashed humanity, just another example of the dangers of hiding the truth.
Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge hated the truth so much they went so far as brainwashing and killing off anyone who possessed too much of it.
Nazi Germany… do I even have to go there?
Despite the lessons of modern history, both Davenport and the Selectmen involved in this recent attempt to censor the YPD have made a fatal error. “Fatal” in that they have shown either their true colors, or ignorance, in wanting to take Yarmouth in the wrong direction down a road towards inevitable failure. Aside from that, withholding records from the public is illegal in most cases. Under Massachusetts and federal laws about the freedom of information and public records, the press is entitled to the information the YPD has previously shared freely. In its press releases on social media, the wise administrators of the YPD have sidestepped the sometimes biased media middlemen by putting up exactly their version of what occurred. It’s a win/win for the public and the YPD because even if the free flow of information is successfully squelched by a town committee, the media will eventually get these stories regardless…
Besides, it’s just wrong, ignorant, and poor timing to even attempt to keep the public in the dark these days. Just look at what’s happening in today’s news about Benghazi and the IRS. There is an unusually high level of government distrust that the Yarmouth Police Department has been fortunate enough to avoid by simply doing the right thing.
And where would you like to live or visit? A community that values doing the right thing? Or a dishonest town that falsely advertises its “brand?”
Robert Bastille, HyannisNews.com
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