Transparency has benefits

Published 11:47 am Thursday, October 9, 2008

Any time an officer of the law comes under review for their behavior, there is a public interest at stake.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said earlier this week that an Ironton police officer has been put on paid administrative leave.

He did not identify the officer in question, saying only the officer was on leave until the completion of “internal and external investigations.”

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Blankenship said he did not want to release any more information.

“I just don’t feel it is prudent right now to give out that information,” he said. “It is an ongoing investigation and I want to keep the integrity of the investigation intact and know we are doing everything in a professional manner in resolving this matter.”

Although we understand the reason for caution, it would not be out of line for the mayor to indicate the officer being investigated and a general explanation for why the officer is being investigated.

Although trying to protect the officer is noble, the mayor has to know the findings of those investigations and the identity of the officer will be revealed at some point.

The benefit to the public for such transparency would be that it could lead to further information from the public.

The reality is in a small town, it won’t take long for the officer’s identity to become known. This approach doesn’t provide opportunity for explanation by the officer.

Regardless of whether the officer’s name is revealed before or after the investigation is complete, there should be an understanding that the officer has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing at this point.

That is the purpose of the investigations, which are being conducted simultaneously by the Ironton Police Department and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

Just because the officer is being investigated is not an indication of guilt, but the public is entitled to full disclosure, be that sooner or later.