Thursday, September 25, 2008

Central Precinct Encourages Salemtown Association Not To Be Discouraged by Janell Ross's Tennessean Article

The Metro Police Central Precinct Community Coordinator, David Rueff, sent the following e-mail message to the Salemtown Neighbors e-mail list earlier today in response to complaints that a Tennessean article written by Janell Ross and published on Monday was designed to stoke racial tensions in Salemtown:
Please pass along to everyone in the neighborhood not to be discouraged by the article. Salemtown along other neighborhoods in Central Precinct have developed a good working partnership. This partnership is one where we encourage people to look out for suspicious activity and suspicious people in the neighborhood and to call it in. That is what good neighbors do, look out for your neighbor and your neighborhood. You all in Salemtown can be proud of the work you do to try and pull the neighborhood together, both the old and the new. Maybe with time and persistence more people will join in and become a part of Salemtown and what it can become, a really great neighborhood for everyone.
The MNPD message in this e-mail is diametrically opposite of Janell Ross's report that police are "plagued" with phone calls from Salemtown residents regarding suspicious behavior on their streets.

This is another significant blow to the credibility of both the Tennessean and of Janell Ross to report the news accurately and without some preconceived agenda. How else are we to understand the contradiction between the Central Precinct and what Ross claimed that Police Chief Ronal Serpas told her?

In order to take Ross at her word we would have to believe that the Central Precinct has been defying their own Chief by encouraging residents to make suspicious person calls. That strains credulity. The simplest explanation is that Janell Ross is not reporting all of the facts and that the local daily paper, the Tennessean (published by Gannett Co., Inc.), is publishing errors about local neighborhoods for motives other than reporting the news.

The most troubling part about this is that there are people out there who would make police calls for racist reasons. By broad brushing North End white populations without clear evidence that they are making these calls (and with evidence to the contrary), Janell Ross is minimizing the loathsome actual occurrence of race-based police calls in Nashville. She is doing our communities a profound disservice, and she is hurting her own credibility with readers like me. I certainly would have misgivings about believing anything she writes about other problems in Nashville in future articles, given her indignity toward and seeming ignorance of this neighborhood.

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