Child Abuse by Officer
A San Antonio Police Officer, Robert Gaitan, was arrested this morning on a charge of Injury to a Child. Officer Gaitan has been with SAPD for 11 years and is assigned to the patrol division. The alleged child abuse occurred when Gaitan and his girlfriend’s 14-year old son got into a fist fight and Gaitan punched the child in the face. Gaitan was placed on administrative leave and the San Antonio Police Department will have their internal affairs division investigate the incident.
This website, while not its main function, has tried to shine a spotlight on a big problem within law enforcement, domestic abuse. Study after study has shown that domestic battery occurs at higher rates in law enforcement than in most other fields. Even professional sports has a lower rate of domestic abuse. So please understand that we are not trying to protect this man but we do have some questions.
Very little information has been released regarding this incident. KSAT says it’s a developing story but we are writing our story almost 12 hours later and no further details of value have been given. We took our information from KSAT (see their article and video here) but the other places we checked were just as bad. Here are some of our questions,
When did the incident happen? Was it today and he was arrested immediately or was it some time in the past and he was arrested on a warrant? Was he arrested at work? The background on the photo looks the same as what is used by the Bexar County Jail but it appears the officer is wearing his work shirt. Who was the arresting agency? What was the bond amount? Were there witnesses to the attack? Was the girlfriend present or was Officer Gaitan home alone with the boy? Were the police called and if so who called them? Or did the girlfriend go in and file a report after the fact? Is the incident a matter of the child’s word against the officer’s word? If so, were any injuries observed on the child? Is the child okay?
Thin Blue Line
I understand that law enforcement agencies tend to try to protect their officers by withholding information. We don’t do investigative reporting at this website. We scrape articles for information. It’s very obvious that when the assailant is an officer there is a lot less information available.
Media Needs to Do Their Job
But the lack of information can’t all be blamed on law enforcement agencies. Several of our questions could have been easily answered if the reporter had put even a little effort into doing his job. Instead they chose to go out with a clickbait story that has no meat to it and doesn’t give the reader enough information to make a reasoned decision. In other words, it’s all sensationalism.
We understand the need to attract readers. The media is in a tough spot. People are hardly buying newspapers anymore and we all expect the content on the internet to be free. How do you make money to be able to pay your reporters that way? But even if you have to get out with a story as quickly as possible at least have a check list of basic information questions and then update your article later when you get more information.
As it is, this skimpy reporting is a disservice to everyone.
Note: The critique is not aimed solely at KSAT. They are our go-to site because of the good job they normally do. As we said above, all the websites we checked, which are the main ones for San Antonio, did the same poor job.