WEEKLY CRIME REPORTS: High Country Press to Continue Providing Local Information

Published Friday, May 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm

By Jessica Isaacs

As part of our commitment to local news coverage, the staff here at High Country Press has decided to bring back our weekly guide to crime reports provided by law enforcement agencies including the Boone Police Department and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.

We stopped offering our weekly crime reports while we experienced some changes in our staff between March and April. During the hiatus, HCP Publisher Ken Ketchie had a chance to reflect on why we were offering crime reports in the first place and, if we brought them back, how we could make them better.

“Many of our readers reached out to us when we stopped posting weekly crime reports,” Ketchie said. “We realize that many people use that resource to stay informed on what’s going in the community. It’s important for citizens to know what’s happening around them.”

Ultimately, Ketchie decided the primary objective of posting local crime reports is to keep our readers up-to-date on criminal activity in the area, and not necessarily to call attention to the individuals who may be responsible for those crimes.

“We have spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not to include names in the list of incidents and arrests, or whether or not we should even be publishing that information,” Ketchie said. “In this country, suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty. Those reports are part of public record, however, so we are still committed to presenting what’s happening in our area.”

For that reason, we’ve decided to bring our crime reports back, but with a few changes. You’ll still see arrest and incident reports, and you’ll still see when and where those crimes took place. What you won’t see, however, is the suspect’s name.

Although the list might look a little different after we’ve made a few changes, you can still check back with High Country Press every Wednesday for updated incident and arrest reports from WCSO and BPD.

WCSO Administrative Assistant Julia Barefoot agreed that crime reports play an important role in the lives of local residents.

“As a private citizen, I think it’s important to know what’s going on in your community,” she said.

Barefoot added that local media outlets like High Country Press are an easy way for citizens to access public records that provide helpful information.

“It’s almost a community service as far as keeping the public informed,” Barefoot said. “That’s one of the greatest responsibilities of the media — just informing people of what’s going on in their community and what’s going on in the news. It’s definitely a good thing to include those reports.”

 

Click here to read our latest crime reports from April 27 – May 4.

 

Keep reading to learn how to access public records on your own.

 

OBTAINING PUBLIC RECORDS

Because the information contained within the documents is public record, copies of incident and arrest reports are available to the public through both the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Boone Police Department.

WATAUGA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Only the first page of each document is available to the public according to North Carolina law, Barefoot said, but the first page will include: the date occurred, the date reported, the type of incident, the address where the incident occurred and other helpful information.WCSO logo

A staff member at WCSO can help you find the document you’re looking for by conducting a quick search based on a person’s name, an address or a date and time.

A $2 fee will be applied for each document and must be paid in cash or check, and exact change is always appreciated.

There are two ways to pick up an incident or arrest report from the WCSO:

  1. Stop by the BPD office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  2. Send a request through the mail including the $2 payment and a self-addressed stamped envelope so that documents can be sent to you.

BOONE POLICE DEPARTMENT

Incident and arrest reports from the BPD are available to the public, too.

Portions of the incident reports that are available will let you know the following information: what happened, the victim involved, the date and time and the name and badge number of the responding officer, as well as information regarding any damaged property, if applicable.BPD logo

All information on BPD arrest reports is public record, excluding confidential information about the suspect, like their social security numbers.

A $2 fee will be applied for each document and must be paid in cash, check or money order.

There are two ways to pick up an incident or arrest report from the BPD:

  1. Stop by the BPD office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  2. Send a request through the mail including the $2 payment and a self-addressed stamped envelope so that documents can be sent to you.

 

OTHER HELPFUL TOOLS

N.C. COURT SYSTEM ONLINE

To find out more about an arrest or charges filed, try the Citation Query by Defendant Name tool on the North Carolina Court System’s website. When you search by a person’s name, results will provide court dates and any charges that have been served.

“Just search their last name. If they’ve been served or arrested, even with traffic citations and speeding tickets, it will bring up anyone that matches those parameters,” Barefoot said. “It’s a really good, easy way to search and see if someone has a pending court date.”

The court system website will not list information on outstanding unserved warrants or other criminal papers.

WATAUGA COUNTY JAIL

Call the Watauga County Detention Center at 828-265-7614 to find out if someone you know has been incarcerated. Provide a name to the staff member on the phone and they can confirm whether or not that person is in jail at the time. If that person is in jail, the staff member can tell you what charges they’re facing and any applicable bond amounts.

MOBILE APPS

A free download of smartphone and tablet apps like MobilePatrol and VINEmobile may provide further information on charges and arrests, including mug shots, in your area.

 

 

 

 

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