Color Bind: Are Police Looking for Johnny Cash?

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Johnny Cash: Dressed in Black

We've written about the local media's awkward refusal to mention the race of violent, uncaptured suspects in police stories a few times. (Here and here.) It's odd that a newspaper would inform its readers how violent an individual might be and mention what that individual may have been wearing (past tense) but not even begin to describe skin color.

No, race isn't important in general. But yes, skin color can be somewhat helpful in describing what somebody looks like.

This week the Sun-Sentinel reported on a shooting outside an apartment building in Hallandale Beach, saying the shooters were "two men dressed in black." In an updated version of the story on the web site, that description has been removed.

Presumably because someone got tired of searching high and low for Johnny Cash (may he rest in peace.)

In the case of the police officer who had his car (and his wallet and badge) stolen from outside a bar in Hialeah, apparently the suspect is a goatee:

"Police don't have a detailed description of the suspect, but witnesses said they saw a man with a goatee standing near the car."

What did the man behind the goatee look like? Let's just hope this mastermind doesn't figure out a way to remove said goatee.

The SS did acknowledge last week that the same party could not be responsible for all the bank robberies in Pompano Beach recently (and there have been more than one per week over the past month) because:

"Authorities don't believe they are related because the suspects sought in the first two robberies are white, and the suspect in the latest robbery is black."

The story follows with:

"The man who conducted today's robbery was wearing dark blue pants, according to the Sheriff's Office. There were no reports of injuries."

Apparently there were also no reports of shirts.

In the story about a man in Miami who choked a hotel employee until she was unconscious -- that's right, he choked her, and when she awoke, she was bruised and naked -- the Sun-Sentinel reported that the suspect is "clean cut and 30 to 40 years old." How helpful might that description come in the apprehension of the man who would do this? I suspect not very.

The most entertaining description comes from yesterday's story of the man who robbed a Pompano 7-Eleven with his finger. The article describes -- in detail -- how the man held his hand under his shirt, pretending it was a gun, and later opened the door with the same hand. But when it comes to the suspect:

"Investigators say the man is about 6 feet tall and 160 pounds, and has tattoos on his arm and neck."

As it happens, mega-blogsmith Thomas Francis linked to video of the incident, and we know that the suspect is also black. Not that it matters... unless someone wants to catch him.


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