To the editor:
I noticed the Community Advocate has quietly removed the long-form Police Log from its printed publication and replaced it with a scannable QR code. It appears below the fold in a 1 inch call-out with a vague direction to “scan the QR code to read this week’s police news” on their website.
This requires a standard reader to: own a device that recognizes QR codes, understand how to scan QR through a functioning camera app, and have access to the internet.
Benefit of the doubt suggests this updated format is to allow more ad space or an editorial choice for other articles of import. In practice, however, this is an unnecessary barrier to the transparency of local police activity, a tax-payer funded department that receives on average 15% of the city’s budget, in cities and towns in Massachusetts and upwards of 30% in major cities across the country.
The tax-payer funded department is already granted enormous privacy into internal matters and investigations at all levels; the police log is merely a public-facing report provided verbatim from this same department. The communities they ostensibly serve deserve what little transparency is offered. In a free, local paper, accessibility to this information is arguably even more important. Adding barriers at this level is unacceptable.
Editor’s note: Yes, it is correct that police departments are taxpayer funded. However, the Community Advocate is a private entity, which provides its coverage at no cost to its readers. With growing costs in all areas, we do look for ways to cut costs, but this has nothing to do with transparency but space constraints. Most police logs can be easily accessed through our website or the respective police departments.