Looking back at some of the coverage I’ve done here at the Sidney Herald, I find myself cringing at some of the words I’ve used. Most specifically in reference to Sidney City Council and Sidney Police Department.
I stand firm on my principles of transparency, open records and the fact that our freedoms as Americans are rooted in our right to know. But as far as the individuals who were named in some of my articles, I feel differently about that now.
Firstly, Capt. Mark Kraft of the Sidney Police Department was at the center of my “Policing the police” editorial on open records practices here. I believe Kraft and I both had huge misconceptions about the intentions each of us had. Today, I can confidently say Kraft is an incredibly professional, experienced and skilled police captain.
Throughout the mess that ensued last summer, he and I still had to sit down together for an average of about an hour per week and do the dispatch report. There were weeks I was filled with so much anxiety walking into the police department that I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. But every week, he opened the door, said good morning and welcomed me into his office.
Lt. Travis Rosaaen, while not named in my editorials, was also professional, kind and welcoming every week, as the two men share a large office space.
I believe leadership plays a large role in how we react to things on a professional level. I now understand Kraft was doing his job to the best of his ability. After spending the amount of hours with him that I have, I get that my initial impressions of the situation were misplaced and I want to address that as publicly as I addressed the previous situation.
In my experience, Sidney doesn’t have a corrupt police department. What we have here is a collection of men and women who are dedicated to toeing that blue line. The misconduct of one officer doesn’t paint the whole department as a basket of bad apples.
I have an immense amount of respect for law enforcement. Dealing with the press is a delicate relationship and one to be handled with great care. We both have jobs to do in the name of public interest, but we have very different motives. Neither of which are wrong or bad, but they are different.
Mayor Rick Norby and I have also forged a really cool camaraderie, something he’s addressed publicly a couple times. During the economic development annual meeting, he told a room full of county leaders that the city and the newspaper are in good graces and that he now understands I was just doing my job. We embraced after the speeches were over and I had to rush out the door so I didn’t cry my eyes out in front of everyone. I don’t think he’ll ever know how important his words were to me in that moment. I also now understand that he was just doing his job too. Again, same end goal, different starting points.
Even if you didn’t agree with what was being printed last summer, I still believe we are all better at our jobs and better people because of it. Things worth doing aren’t usually easy.
Often times bonds are formed due to contentious situations. I don’t think anyone can know the stress and headaches we all felt last summer better than those in the trenches of the controversial coverage. But we all came out with more respect and understanding of one another and for that I’m eternally grateful.