If you are a reporter with the cop beat, there is no story more loathsome than the cop-gets-transferred story. These stories are boring and usually filled with anonymous hand-wringing and inside-baseball org charts that in the end offer very little consequences for the average reader. The only people who care about police officials getting a transfer slip are other cops.
Write enough of these stories, and you will swear off the police beat. These stories will wreck you.
Bill Myers, a reporter for the Examiner, is the latest victim in the cop-transfer genre with his piece on Asst. Chief Winston Robinson‘s taking over the police academy in Blue Plains. Myers was saddled with this grabber headline: “Assistant Police Chief Named To Head Academy.” Who the hell is going to read any further?
So Myers tried to juice his story with one ancient story and some dubious allegations that have gone unproven. What’s his lead graph?
“D.C. police Assistant Chief Winston Robinson has been on the job for nearly 40 years. His behavior has caused him trouble for nearly as long.”
I’m gonna call bullshit!
What are Myers’ facts? An incident in 1985 (that’s more than 20 years ago!) in which he crashed his car, ran, and probably gave a fake name to police. Bad. Embarrassing. Maybe even troubling. But again, more than 20 years ago. And there’s something to be said for redemption.
The next incident Myers brings up is from 2004. Robinson was accused of fudging crime stats. But, Myers, has to write, that an investigation cleared the assistant chief.
The last bit of dirt Myers has is an unresolved allegation about a consulting contract. Zzzzzz.
The only thing Myers has against Robinson that is actually true is the 1985 incident. Here’s what else is true that Myers failed to mention:
Robinson was probably the longest serving commander in the history of the department having headed up the 7th District for roughly a decade. The 7th District does not include Georgetown, a monument, or any decent retail. It had/has a lot of open-air drug markets, some of the worst schools (Hart, Ballou, etc.), and a lot of violence. But Robinson held his own there and he actually earned the respect of a lot of police. He was one of the few top brass to give resources to solving cold murder cases.
I have no doubt that getting a transfer to the police academy might feel like a demotion. After all, it’s teaching. And the academy is in Blue Plains. But Myers doesn’t interview Robinson.
Maybe if Myers did a little more real reporting, he would have found out more about what Robinson is really like, how other cops see him, and what he will actually be doing at the academy. Instead, he trumpets one tired incident and some unfounded garbage to make his point. Myers: Stay away from the cop transfer story!