Who knew Sheriff David Morgan was a sensitive soul?
Our sheriff without question projects authority, competence and control when he steps out on the job. He doesn’t need to don the emblems of his military career to command attention or respect.
But he chooses to, and consequently, he caught a touch of the spotlight for it.
But the way he got his back up over just being asked about the decorations in the first place shows me he has a tender heart, as they say. That “bad” news hurts him.
The thing is, he seems to think it will hurt you, too. Because he is exercising a lot more control over how his office releases information to you.
A few days after the PNJ wrote about the sheriff’s decorations, his office outlined its new public information release policy.
It says there is one voice who will speak for the Sheriff’s Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours and on weekends, there will be an on-call spokesperson who will only answer the call for “emergencies and significant breaking news.”
No requests for reports will be handled after 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For “major incidents,” the media sheep will be told where to gather and will be given information about the incident at a time and manner deemed appropriate.
If only that schedule bore any semblance of reality to the way information actually flows.
If only it still were a Cronkite nation, with people gathered around the blue light of the television waiting to hear of the day’s events.
If only the first time people heard about something was the moment they unfurled the newspaper from its plastic sleeve while standing in the driveway, blinking in the early morning sunlight, coffee mug in hand.
For a generation of people, information comes at the speed of a tweet.
And the very idea of limiting access to it — especially because your feelings are hurt — gets our back up.
The good sheriff thinks he is punishing the media. That’s cool. We have big-kid pants. We can take it.
We’ll still find things out. Every neighborhood has at least one gossip.
Every address and every name has an electronic trail. No one is really off the grid these days. But the message the sheriff risks sending to some age groups is that you deserve to know when he decides it is best.
When he decides it is convenient. With no follow-up questions unless they are submitted before 5 p.m.
As a military man, I know Morgan is used to a “Sir, yes, sir,” atmosphere.
But as an elected official he works for the public — the unruly, unkempt public that wants to know. Now.
Imagining you can answer that call for information only during business hours is as old-fashioned as whispering “bad” words so the kids won’t hear.
The kids are always listening.