It was a short-lived showdown when WALA-TV decided to sue the Mobile Police Department for refusing to release its policy on body camera usage by officers, but the station’s quick victory should serve as a good example for all local media outlets.

WALA had sought to get a copy of MPD’s body camera usage policy since last September, with no results. Two weeks ago the station filed suit against MPD, resulting in the department doing a 180 five hours later and making the policy available to the public.

The argument that a police department policy would not be a public record is something even a first semester law student could easily disprove. The whole issue ended up being a black eye for MPD that could easily have been avoided with a simple understanding of public records.

Even in Alabama, which gives law enforcement tremendous latitude in shielding records from public scrutiny, one has to wonder why MPD leadership thought withholding its policy on body camera usage would hold up in court. Too often media outlets aren’t willing to “lawyer up” over improperly withheld records. Kudos to FOX10 for not letting it slide.

Grip wins “Louie”
FOX10 TV anchor Bob Grip recently received a prestigious award from the International Thomas Merton Society in recognition for his service with the Catholic group.

Grip was given the “Louie” award by the ITMS at the group’s 15th general meeting at St. Bonaventure College in Olean, New York. The “Louie” is given biannually to an ITMS member whose distinguished service has contributed to furthering the aims of the group. Grip served as the organization’s 12th president.

As a “Louie” winner, Grip received a bronze bust of the late Thomas Merton, a monk who entered the Cistercian Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky in 1941. The award carries the name Merton took on for religious purposes — St. Louis de France. He authored dozens of books on Christian spirituality, including the classic “The Seven Storey Mountain,” an autobiography of his life up to becoming a monk. The ITMS promotes study and research on Merton, his life, writings and theology.

In addition to serving as president, Grip is program chair for the 13th general meeting. He also does a major introduction to Merton at each general session meeting and currently serves as the group’s membership chair.

Golden Achievement for MCPSS
For the fourth year in a row, the public relations team at the Mobile County Public School System has come up big in winning the Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association.

MCPSS was recognized in particular for its one-day social media campaign conducted at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. More than 300,000 parents, students, teachers and schools posted to social media using the hashtag #itstartstoday.

The National School Public Relations Association recognizes exemplary work in all aspects of school public relations, communications, marketing and engagement.

MCPSS was one of 70 districts in the United States recognized with this honor, and the only one in Alabama.