The East Wenatchee Police Department was wrong to not make public a murder-suicide that took place in the city about a month ago.
The tragic crime, which Wenatchee World Reporter Pete O’Cain first wrote about Wednesday, is of public interest because it involved, police believe, a murder.
We’re not going out on a limb here by saying our community needs to know when murders take place. It shouldn’t come down to a reporter noticing two same last names on the obituaries page a month after the deaths and then asking questions. But that’s how this came to light.
Assistant Chief Ray Coble told O’Cain that police decided not to make the crime public to spare the family more pain. We understand that desire and feel it, too. But we believe it is in our community’s best interests to know when one person takes the life of another. And so a month after it should have been public, we published our report. Coble also said he understood that point of view and said “we can discuss as an agency how we want to address that moving forward.”
We think the community appreciates that openness from the assistant chief. We certainly do.
Our community deserves more openness like that from the police department, which is led by Chief Randy Harrison. This is an opportunity, we believe, for Harrison and the department to publicly talk about their work.
O’Cain called Chief Harrison on Friday and Monday to ask him about the case. We haven’t heard back yet. We still want to talk.
So, Chief Harrison, if you’re reading this, here’s what we want to know:
Does the East Wenatchee Police Department have a policy on releasing information to the public?
What is it?
How does the department share information and do you think it is important to do so?
What information should a police department share with our community?
If the department doesn’t release information on some homicides, what other information does it not release?
Chief, we want to hear from you. Most importantly, so would our community.
Russ Hemphill is the managing editor of The Wenatchee World. Contact him at 665-1161 or email@example.com.