Town hall rules and regulations are frustrating, but understandable

Published 4:21 pm Friday, October 4, 2019

Censorship in any form is something to be questioned and challenged.

That said, there are reasonable limits to things we can have access to, what we can view and what we can read.

In our business, sometimes there are questions that cannot be answered and information that cannot be provided. For example, information about patients is protected by law. The names of those killed in a traffic accident, or in another tragedy, are not made available until the family is notified.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Then there is information that is withheld due to personal privacy and employee privacy laws. Some information involving economic development and contracts is also often withheld until all the parties agree and a deal is done.

Next week, the city of Vicksburg’s Police Department will host a public safety town hall — a meeting that we have strongly encouraged residents to attend and participate in.

But while we have celebrated the fact the department has scheduled this meeting, the participation rules and guidelines for questions are a bit frustrating.

How can it be a town hall, or a public meeting, when the questions must be screened and scrutinized ahead of time?

But this is no average town hall. This is no average public meeting.

When it comes to public safety, criminal investigations and confidential information, there are some questions and comments that legally cannot be discussed.

Our right to privacy, our protections under the law — in some cases from the law — are based in some ways on the restriction of information and the lack of access.

The objective for this event, which will be held Thursday at the Robert M. Walker Building boardroom, is to hear from those who are leading public safety efforts in our city directly, with no filter.

And, it has been the commitment of those organizing Thursday’s event that only those questions that pertain to an ongoing investigation, or might in some way interfere with a police investigation or threaten sources, will be held back. All of the others, they promise, will be asked as time allows.

While we, like many local residents, are frustrated by the rules and regulations, we understand. While we wish every voice could be heard, we know there are comments and questions that cannot be made public.

We encourage the community to submit their questions and call for answers during the town hall. We encourage tough and direct questions of those who will sit on the panel.