Fight for freedom of information

By Jaclyn Freese
November 13, 2003

Angelina Wagner

I’m not one to be really big on the Constitution. I know my basic rights as a U.S. citizen and I know what I can and cannot do as a Pennsylvania citizen. It’s a shame the Radnor Police Department does not.

When something so significant happens on campus that the police are called, the Loquitur staff immediately looks into it; what has been happening with the crime on campus is an example of this. If something is drastic enough to call the cops on campus, then we as a staff feel the campus needs to know the truth about it.

Police or incident reports are vital to our news stories. Not only does it give the names of the perpetrator, it gives the factual who, what, when, where and why-there are no rumors in an incident report.

Any citizen of Pennsylvania is allowed to march up to a police department and request an incident report. The only way a police department can withhold them is for extenuating circumstances, like an on-going investigation or a sexual assault.

Five out of the six incident reports that myself and two other staff members have requested in the last two weeks did not meet extenuating circumstances, and Radnor Police denied us the reports. The reasoning-our names were not on the reports.

As a citizen of the state of Pennsylvania, I have a right to receive a copy of those reports; it is covered in the Right to Know Law of Pennsylvania and the Freedom of Information Act. I would expect a police department to know that, but when I questioned Lieutenant Tom Flannery, he told me I had no jurisdiction because my name was not on the reports.

Well, the law says otherwise. I am entitled to those reports, just as you the reader are.

Flannery also gave other reasons for denying access to the reports. He said that since Loquitur is a college newspaper and Cabrini is private, it does not serve the public in any way. He also mentioned that they stopped giving out incident reports for the last four or five years, even though members of Loquitur have used them for numerous stories this year. Oh yes, before I forget, he also said they do not give out reports to any newspapers and he specifically used the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Suburban and Wayne Times.

Well, maybe Flannery was mistaken, but the Suburban and Wayne Times has a nice manila envelope waiting for it every Monday at the Radnor Police station with incident reports in them, including ones about our campus. Something does not add up here.

Loquitur is currently filing a Freedom of Information Request for the incident reports. I, personally, do not care about what is on those incident reports. If I were not on a newspaper, I would never even request one. However, I understand my duty as an editor and a journalist to give the readers the truth and incident reports solidify the truth.

I whole-heartedly believe in the rights of every citizen and while I temporarily reside in Radnor, Pa., I’d expect tha

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Jaclyn Freese

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