Why We Had To Quit Running The Police Blotter

  • Monday, February 19, 2024

A host of our readers have emailed or called to ask why we quit running a popular feature called the Police Blotter.

The answer is we had to do so because the Chattanooga Police Department has sent us fewer and fewer usable Blotter items.

The last group of Blotters we received had 122 incidents and 83 of them were blacked out with a Sharpie pen.

A police spokesperson said, "As you know, we can't release cases that are under investigation."

It is unclear what cases he was referring to since the Blotter items were mainly routine - often comical - encounters.

John Wilson, Chattanoogan.com publisher, said, "We felt it was a valuable public service for the years we were able to run the Police Blotter.

"We were careful not to use names or identifying information and did not give home addresses where incidents occurred.

"The Blotter gave citizens at least some idea of crime in the community and it often portrayed patrol officers in the best of light - buying a meal for a homeless person or giving a ride to someone who was stranded."

Here is a rundown of Police Blotter items sent by the police and ones that were blacked out:
May 21-27, 2023
24/132 18% blocked out

June 4-10, 2023
40/139 29% blocked out

Oct. 22-28, 2023
44/147 30% blocked out

Jan. 7-13, 2024
57/120 48% blocked out

Feb. 4-10, 2024 - the most recent report
83/122 68% blocked out

The Chattanooga Police Department responded, saying, "The Chattanooga Police Department sends regular police report narratives to local media organizations at their request. These reports consist of our day-to-day activities. Some information is redacted per departmental guidelines and state law surrounding open criminal investigations. The Chattanoogan attributes a supposed lower frequency of 'usable' reports to an increase in our redaction practices. Our guidelines have not changed– any trend identified in the amount of information redacted is just a reflection of the different matters CPD is responding to and investigating. Our reports are not intended to be entertainment. These are real-life situations that impact our residents and officers. We remain committed to transparency."
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