Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins’ Excuses Are Not Good Enough!


July, 2012

Last month, The Valley Patriot criticized Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins for his failure to notify the public of an escape from the Lawrence jail on Marston Street (known as “the farm”).

After our editorial was published, we were contacted by Paul Fleming, the sheriff’s press director, stating that we were “wrong” and that they did indeed, notify the public of the escape.

He also submitted a letter to the editor (which we have published on this page) stating that he wanted to correct “false assertions, inaccuracies and distortions made”. 

In his letter, Fleming argues that the sheriff’s office fulfilled their legal responsibility of notifying the public of an escape by sending one press release on the matter to his former employer, The Eagle Tribune and no one else.

But the Tribune never published the story of the escape.

The public was never notified because they chose not to run the story. That means the public first learned that an escape took place when they read The Valley Patriot’s editorial last month, long after the fact.

We believe that Sheriff Cousins’ office should be notifying all members of the local press when someone escapes their custody, not just Mr. Fleming’s former employer. Clearly, he should not be relying on just one news source to publish the information, especially given his relationship with that newspaper.

Fleming’s claim that we made “false assertions, inaccuracies and distortions,” rings hollow given the facts of this case. If anyone is engaging in distortions it’s Fleming and Cousins who have a cushy relationship with the Tribune.

Have they ever heard of television? The Internet? Radio Stations?

We have also been told by numerous employees of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department that pre-trial detainees are being housed with convicts at “the farm”, in violation of state law, a charge that Fleming has adamantly denied. Our evidence says otherwise.

Quite frankly we do not care that Sheriff Frank Cousins is a Republican. We don’t care that he is a darling of the Tea Party. We do not care that he is popular or powerful. We do not care that he is a favorite son of the press and the state Democrat Party. We also don’t care that the rest of the press is looking the other way while we stand alone in our criticism of how Cousins operates.

What we care about is getting honest, timely and accurate information from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and we firmly believe that we (and you) are just not getting it.