Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond regrettably is trying to create a straw man to — we guess — distract from his department's technology breach earlier this year. We're just not sure why.
At least three times this week, he has blamed the Times Free Press, "a story out there" and "false information" in alleging the department lost all of its data after a software failure Jan. 13.
Hammond explained late last month that the "catastrophic" loss covered all dash camera footage for 130 patrol deputies. He also explained that footage for specific cases already had been saved elsewhere because it previously had been requested.
The Times Free Press, in its initial story on Feb. 29 and follow-up reports, and in an editorial addressing the situation on March 4, spelled out exactly what the sheriff said — that the dash camera footage in general was lost but that specific footage was saved.
The newspaper never stated that all Sheriff's Office camera footage had been lost for good.
However, in speaking to District 7 residents about the data situation Tuesday, Hammond said that 80% of what the newspaper prints "is false or misleading information." He later accused the newspaper of saying "we lost all tapes of all cases." He then asked for a nod from audience members to see if that's what they understood.
In a Times Free Press story Thursday, about his request in the county's fiscal 2021 budget for $4.5 million for data storage, he referenced that "there's a story out there that we've lost everything we had, specifically stuff going on as it pertains to lawsuits or criminal investigations. That is not true."
And in explaining the data breach on WGOW-FM Thursday, Hammond said there is "false information" in the public about the department losing all its footage.
"Ninety percent of what we lost," he said, "you wouldn't use anyway. The cases that have gotten such news" — he referenced the case in which a former deputy allegedly baptized a woman he had stopped — "they're all protected."
The Times Free Press takes great pains to report accurate information and corrects the record when errors are made. In this case, the newspaper accurately reported what occurred and what Hammond said about it.
The sheriff has been using the Times Free Press as a straw man. Hammond should stop deflecting and blaming the paper. The data loss is on his department.