Kentucky Newspaper Retracts ‘Major Error’ In Police Story

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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A Kentucky newspaper has retracted a front-page story after it attributed a racist quote to Hardin County sheriff John Ward.

“Those who go into the law enforcement profession typically do it because they have a desire to shoot minorities,” the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise quoted John Ward as saying.

But Ward, who recently took office, says he did not come close to making such an outlandish statement, and now the newspaper has issued a retraction, reports media blogger Jim Romenesko.

Instead of saying that cops enter the profession for depraved, racist reasons, Ward says he stated in an interview that police officers go into that line of work “because they have a desire to serve the community.”

Ward flagged the erroneous quote in a statement on the sheriff department’s Facebook page.

“I have no idea how that was printed from any interview with me,” Ward wrote on Thursday. “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,” Ward continued.

How Ward came to be quoted as saying something vastly different is still unclear, but Ben Sheroan, the paper’s editor, has retracted the article.

“A story on Page A1 in today’s print edition contains a major error and misquotes Sheriff John Ward in a paraphrased statement,” Sheroan wrote on the paper’s Facebook page. “The version online has been corrected. The newspaper formally apologizes to the sheriff and other law-enforcement officers offended by its typographical mistake.”

Sheroan provided more detail to Romenesko, telling the blogger that “disciplinary steps have been taken” and that “this error involved a failure to follow established production processes in our news department.”

Despite the clarification, News-Enterprise commenters were left unsatisfied.

“A ‘major error’ is what you call it?” wrote Kim Lewis. “What a pathetic apology. Whomever caused this ‘major error’ has no business in the NEWS business and not only needs to personally apologize to John Ward but their a$$ [sic] needs canned.”

Sorry but your retraction should have said exactly what you misquoted and offered some insight into how you plan to deal with it,” commented Tracie Carney Dupin. “This wasn’t some minor misquote. This attacked a man’s credibility and reputation as well as put in jeopardy officer’s lives should some moron believe your statement.”

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