'Jump Start' Comic Rankles 'Democrat & Chronicle' Readers After Police Shooting

By: E&P Staff A cartoon in last Friday's Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle has caused a controversy for depicting a police shooting, the same week that two Rochester police officers and four Washington state officers were shot.

The paper issued an apology for the "Jump Start" comic on Friday, which was part of a series of cartoons advocating the importance of bullet-proof vests. Despite the controversy, the D&C's editors will run the next comic in the series ?because editors feel it is important for readers to have access to the conclusion of the story,? according to a letter posted on the paper?s Web site.

The editors pointed out that the section that the comics appear in are prepared a week in advance, though VP/News and Editor Karen Magnuson wrote, ?We regret not back-checking the proofs and we are revisiting our procedures to ensure we check comics proofs more closely in the future.?

The comic, which was drawn by cartoonist Robb Armstrong, elicited roughly 25 phone calls from readers, many from the law enforcement community in the area. It featured a police officer who is given a ?Hero Medallion? by a homeless family, and though he is initially reluctant to wear it, it ends up protecting him when he gets shot.

?We are sorry if some people were offended by the strip and we appreciate the fact that the artist responded quickly to our readers? concerns,? Magnuson added.

The Democrat and Chronicle posted a note from Armstrong along with their notice, where he apologized and pointed out that he drew the strip nearly a month ago, long before the officers were shot.

?The response to my comic strip, where I have depicted an officer being shot, has been appropriately emotional,? said Armstrong in his response to readers. ?I am grateful for the outcry heard from New York state. I am grateful to be published every day in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.?

Armstrong?s cartoons are distributed by United Features Syndicate, who told the Democrat and Chronicle that they have had similar complaints from two other newspapers in areas that have recently experienced ?police-related incidents.?


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