Elizabethtown newspaper apologizes for 'major error' in police story

Hardin Co. sheriff responds to 'major error' in Elizabethtown newspaper
Published: Jan. 8, 2015 at 3:14 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 15, 2015 at 3:14 PM EST
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The News-Enteprise is apologizing for a "major error" in the Jan. 8 paper.
The News-Enteprise is apologizing for a "major error" in the Jan. 8 paper.


The News-Enterprise

is apologizing for what it calls a major error after printing a story which erroneously quoted the Hardin County sheriff as saying that most police "have a desire to shoot minorities."

In a story on the front page of the January 8 edition, the newspaper printed "Hardin County Sheriff John Ward said those who go into the law enforcement profession typically do it because they have a desire to shoot minorities." In a press release issued Thursday afternoon, Editor Ben Sheroan apologized and said no such statement had been made.

Sheriff Ward said he began receiving calls around 5:30 Thursday morning about the story, which was written by reporter Anna Taylor. In a phone interview, Ward said the reporter's original story correctly quoted him as saying officers get into law enforcement "because they have a desire to serve the community."

Ward believes the story was intentionally changed by someone before it was printed. He said the change might have been malicious or intended as a joke.

Sheroan said the newspaper is investigating how the mistake made it into print and will take appropriate actions immediately. Staff at the newspaper originally thought a word had simply been dropped from the sentence, but now they believe it was a production error, the result of "a failure to follow established procedures," Sheroan said.

The online version of the story has removed the quote entirely. At the top of the page, the paper wrote the following retraction: "This story - as it appeared in print - contained a major error and misquoted Sheriff John Ward. The version here has been corrected. The newspaper apologizes to the sheriff and other law-enforcement officers offended by its typographical mistake. - Ben Sheroan, editor." Sheroan also published an apology on the paper's Facebook page and through a release to media.

"This statement is not in any way reflective of Sheriff Ward, the Hardin County Sheriff's Office or other law enforcement in our community," he said.

The story, printed with the headline "Law enforcement to be honored for service," describes police appreciation events to be held Friday for the Radcliff and Elizabethtown police and presents them as a counterpoint to recent "negative publicity," referencing media coverage of police incidents.

Sheroan said the paper will print a formal retraction on the front page of Friday's edition. 

The Hardin County Sheriff's Office shared a response from Sheriff Ward on their Facebook page. It reads:

"I have no idea how that was printed from any interview with me. Nothing was said that even resembles that comment. This interview was conducted with another member of the Hardin County Sheriff's Office present and there was no part of the interview that mentioned any related comments. I have served in law enforcement for 30 years and have never known any officers that had these motives. There was no part of the interview that mentioned shooting any person. Let me assure you that there will be additional information forthcoming."

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