Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Police Tape Targets Perception of City's Crime; SHERIFF SAYS DUVAL NOT AS VIOLENT AS RESIDENTS THINK TV News Seen as Misleading Viewers on Where Crime Occurs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Police Tape Targets Perception of City's Crime; SHERIFF SAYS DUVAL NOT AS VIOLENT AS RESIDENTS THINK TV News Seen as Misleading Viewers on Where Crime Occurs

Article excerpt

Byline: JIM SCHOETTLER

Sheriff John Rutherford insists Jacksonville is nowhere near as violent as residents believe, despite having a murder rate that has led the state the past eight years.

Rutherford said perception is reality and he blames television news coverage for at least some of the fears people feel. His solution: Change yellow to red and white.

Those are the colors of the tape police use to rope off crime scenes from robberies to murders. The tape is most often seen by the public on televised news stories about crime, which is the problem, Rutherford said.

The sheriff says TV news stations intentionally tease to some upcoming stories involving nationwide crime scenes, strewn with yellow tape, without immediately identifying those locations. He sees it as a way to keep viewers fixed to newscasts until they learn more.

Rutherford calls the practice "localizing of national news" and says switching to a different colored tape for Jacksonville crime scenes is designed to differentiate between crime here and elsewhere. He said if such pictures appear in the newspaper, the accompanying story will explain where the crime occurred.

"I think local TV stations do this community a disservice by not clearly describing where crimes are when they are reported," Rutherford said. "This is my way of trying to combat it."

Mo Ruddy-Baker, news director at WJXT TV-4, said national stories are teased but never with the intent of misrepresenting where it happened. She said her station works with the Sheriff's Office to help make the community safer, such as using the "Wheel of Justice" to help identify wanted people.

"My belief is that Sheriff Rutherford is just wrong," Ruddy-Baker said.

Rutherford said he has asked TV stations to stop the practice without success. Ruddy-Baker said he made the plea to her about two years ago and Undersheriff Frank Mackesy mentioned it again recently.

"We make a concerted effort to let people know what's going on in their community and we use the name of their community," Ruddy-Baker said.

Jacksonville police began replacing the yellow tape with red and white tape bought about a year ago for an extra $1. …

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