Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The reaction of the Joplin City Council to the questioning by local citizens and the Joplin Globe of the disciplinary measures taken against two police officers who clearly overstepped their authority (at the least) and appear to have broken the law, is quite illuminating.
According to this morning's Globe, city officials feel they are wasting their time dealing with this situation. Let me see if I understand this, two officers take an 11-year-old kid out of school in handcuffs for an incident that took place off school property and involved the son of one of the police officers. Even worse, the officers were not on duty.
The Joplin R-8 School District stepped up to the plate and handled the situation correctly and forthrightly, admitting that mistakes had been made.
Joplin city officials, as the Globe has noted, have refused to say what disciplinary measures were taken against the officers. They cite city laws that prohibit the release of such information.
The simple fact is the hard-working officers of the Joplin Police Department are the ones who are paying for city officials' stubbornness. Swift, decisive action and an announcement to the public of that action would have shown that city officials and the new police chief do not intend to tolerate officers who break the law and bully the weakest among us.
Instead, the reputation of every decent officer has been diminished because city officials do not believe that their bosses, the people of Joplin, can handle the truth or have any business knowing it.
There have been many times when I have disagreed with The Joplin Globe's news priorities and the stances the paper's editors have taken on various issues. This is not one of those times.
Joplin city officials are wrong. The public has a right to know what actions are taken against police officers who consider themselves above the law.

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