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Off the Record

It's your police department, take the time to read the study

Who wants to read more than 130 pages of a performance review?

The Daily Sun News does.

Every journalist learns their first and sole responsibility is to inform the public. "The Watchdog of America" is what the press is commonly called. That means we sit for countless hours in city council and school board meetings to publish the happenings for you, the public. Because it's a citizen's right to be in the know.

That's why news staff members are diligently reading and reporting on a performance and management review of the Sunnyside Police Department that was commissioned by city officials last May. The findings, however, were not all that pleasant.

But what saddens me the most are the ruthless comments anonymously displayed on the DSN website. It's just insight into the kind of humanity we have lurking around us, as long as their anonymity is secure, of course. While exercising First Amendment rights, some are apt to speak before they think.

Some in our community are crediting the local police force for the recent reduction in crime.

It would be wise, however, to remember the Yakima County Gang Commission's predictions that gang activity in the county has gone dormant, not away.

Toppenish Police Chief Adam Diaz said in a gang commission meeting this past August, that although the gang activity is seemingly hibernating, they are recruiting, and recruiting younger members. That means those younger recruits are likely to be more aggressive and violent in the near future, to prove a point and earn the credibility they seek from their fellow gang members.

So before shooting the messenger, let's all keep in mind that any public agency, even our own police department here in Sunnyside, can benefit from undergoing an evaluation.

With the performance review available through the public records law, all local citizens can and should obtain a copy of the study's findings to see for themselves where their money has really gone. If you disagree with what the Daily Sun News has reported about this $50,000 study, we'd love to hear from you. Rarely are letters to the editor turned away. But remember, please, they must be signed. After all, if you're not willing to put your name to it, it's generally not worth reading, nor is it generally creditable.

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