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Green Bay Police Union Rips Media for Airing Portions of Arrest Video

by Jerry Bader

Because I plan on taking this up on the show tomorrow, I'm going to raise questions without answering them. The Green Bay Professional Police Association issued a release today criticizing the Green Bay TV stations for airing portions of a cell phone video of Green Bay Police Officer Derek Wicklund making an arrest with what many consider to be excessive force.

GBPPA President Ryan Meader argues in the release that airing portions of the video leads to a prejudging of Wicklund before all the facts are in:

We also live in a society where people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but this same legal principle that all citizens hold dear doesnt seem to apply to police officers. Recently, local news media outlets aired a video segment of Officer Derek Wicklund affecting a justifiable, legal, and lawful arrest of an individual. Like most video segments, it does not tell the entire story, and too often media outlets use such footage as propaganda to generate controversy, make headlines, and sell advertising space. This is all done at the expense of police officers who then face potential retaliation and threats to themselves and their families for merely doing what is expected of them. If a citizen were threatened or harassed by another, we would call that a crime. That same concept doesnt appear to apply to police officers.

Here are some of the issues raised:

  • The entire video went viral on Facebook and You Tube; should the media not airsomethingthat muchof its audience is already watching for themselves?
  • Does the full online videoexonerate Wicklund in a way the portions shown on television do not?
  • Is the video newsworthy? That's the bottom line issue TV newsrooms confront when decided whether to air or not to air.
  • If it is newsworthy, is it the media's responsibility to explain context, or lack of it, such as what may have happened right before or other unseen elements that may have been factors in the officer's actions?
  • The release states: "We live in sad times when a snippet of video is used to pass judgment on a police officer's actions before all the facts are in." Yes, people are doing that. Because viewers may unfairly prejudge the officers is that a reason for the media not to show it?

Again, I'm raising these issues here. I'll address them on the show tomorrow.