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City should tell it straight about robberies

By Staff
Meridian city officials have been less than direct on the subject of what even police describe as a rising number of robberies. The Meridian Star obtained some information on robberies that took place this year, information duly reported to our community in last Sunday's newspaper.
While the general public probably cares little for the hoops we jumped through, it should be pointed out that our request under Mississippi's public records act was passed from the police department, to the city clerk, to the city attorney and, finally, to the mayor's office before a partial response was made. Under the law, the city has 14 working days to response to such a request. The request was filed Aug. 27 and today, Oct. 2 25 working days later the city has still not provided all of the information we sought and have a right to obtain.
It's either a dodge, outright incompetence or an attempt to subvert what is already a weak public information law in this state. None of these possibilities are acceptable.
Our view is that the public needs to know that robberies are on the rise in our community. We need to know so we all can become perhaps a little more vigilant. Shoppers need to know to be more alert while they are going to and from their cars with loads of groceries, or bags of merchandise purchased from local stores. Shoppers need to know to protect or conceal their purses and wallets.
One of the major criticisms of the John Robert Smith administration is that it keeps the public in the dark, even on issues such as robberies in which the public has a clear interest. As for the mayor himself, he couldn't find time to comment for The Meridian Star's stories, so we simply don't know where he stands on the issue. And, with all due respect to the city's chief administrative officer, he wasn't elected mayor.
We also take this opportunity to point out that Mayor Smith signed a pledge during his last campaign to support Mississippi's public records act and open meetings law. His treatment of the pending request under the very laws he pledged to support is not encouraging.
All of that notwithstanding, it remains important that every resident of this city be made aware that robberies  especially in daylight hours and at public places are on the rise. The people in this community can only respond responsibly when our officials provide us with timely, accurate information.

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