Transparency a critical trait for law enforcement

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 11:33 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Law enforcement officers and deputies often swear oaths to protect and serve, but part of their service includes informing the community. Letting citizens know if they are in danger. Still, each department communicates with the public differently and some are more inclined to share than others.

Some believe transparency is the best way to counter misinformation, and keep the community informed and safe.

“I actually thought about that this morning on my drive back from our crime scene to the office,” said Pelham Police Chief Pat Cheatwood.

The Chief spent most of his Tuesday morning at a self-defense shooting scene. While still working to collect the facts, he thought it was important to share what they could with the community and conducted a press conference just after 7:00 a.m.

“Technology is a great thing and we use it daily as you do. People are informed now where they weren’t twenty years ago. It is instant information now. So we have to get the information out there and we want to get it out there as quick as we can,” said Chief Cheatwood.

Major Clay Hammac of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office stresses that law enforcement should answer to the community and the office is now utilizing the digital space to further transparency efforts.

“We even publish our real time dispatch log for the world to see. At any time 24 hours a day a citizen can log on to They can view our real time crime statistics. They can also see particular areas in the country, using heat maps, where high crime areas are. We also give a list of crime prevention tips and how they can partner with us to combat criminal elements in the community,” said Shelby County Sheriff Deputy Major Clay Hammac.

Each of the departments I spoke with stressed there are some cases where transparency simply is not possible. The two examples that kept coming up were personnel matters, and juvenile crime.


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