The Washington Post

More clarity in coverage of police misconduct

- James Gillespie, Fairfax

The title of the Feb. 18 Metro article “Mistrial in former Pentagon officer’s murder case” was misleading, because at the time of the shooting he was employed as an officer. Another Feb. 18 news article was titled “5 ex-memphis police officers plead not guilty in death of Tyre Nichols,” and a Feb. 14 front-page article had the headline “Scrutiny for FBI over ex-agent’s side work.” In the former case, all of the alleged misconduct took place while the officers were employed, and in the latter much of it did, too.

The Post seems to have adopted the convention of referring to law enforcemen­t personnel who left employment after alleged incidents of misconduct as “ex” or “former.” These titles are often misleading and always confusing to the reader. With alleged police misconduct very much in the public eye, the distinctio­n between whether misconduct was committed by a current or a former officer is meaningful.

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