Police study needs releasing now
Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 2, 2007
The issue: A draft copy of the independent report of the City of Selma’s police department is in the hands of the mayor and council president.
Our position: The entire report should be released now without any editing.
For weeks now we’ve heard from both Mayor James Perkins, Jr. and Selma City Council President George Evans that a draft of the much anticipated independent report on the City of Selma’s police department is in their hands, and that of someone associated with the &8220;nationwide&8221; search for a new police chief.
Our question is why a draft? If this report was truthfully to be an independent, in-depth investigation into the current status of the city’s police department, then shouldn’t the consultant, Dr. Ralph Ioimo of Public Safety Consultants, Inc., of Wetumpka, simply deliver the final plan to the city? We certainly think so.
The word &8220;draft&8221; was also widely used during the recent bid to get a $12 million bond issue sent to voters. That draft was changed more than a dozen times before the final version was approved by majority vote during a recent council meeting. Does that mean this report is going to be changed since it too is a draft? If so, that would be criminal in our opinion.
What the taxpayers of this city did not pay $48,000 for was a draft of a report that could possibly be edited to suit the purpose of those responsible for managing the police department, mainly Mayor Perkins. We have an inkling that the report is not going to paint a very flattering picture of the leadership of the police department, namely acting Chief of Police Jimmy Martin and Perkins, but if indeed the report is damaging to them, they need to take their lumps, move on, and try to use what is contained in the report as an opportunity to be proactive in solving the ills the police department currently suffers from instead of trying to save face by possibly editing the report to suit their personal agendas.
It’s no secret that the city’s police department is in bad shape. Poor morale, high turnover and consistent problems, including charges of police brutality and officers breaking the laws they are sworn to uphold, have plagued the department for some time now. We freely admit that there are many quality, responsible people working within our police department, but without proper leadership and a good plan to address crime in our city, they cannot perform at a high level &045; a level that is expected by the people they work for, the citizens of Selma.
While the problems our police department and city face cannot be rectified overnight, the mayor and Evans have a responsibility to the public to let the consultant’s investigative work stand as written and allow that unsanitized information to be released to the public.
Yes, we expect the information in it will be hard for some people to swallow and embarrassing to others, but its information the public has a right to see.
After all, it’s the public that paid the price for the investigatory work to be done in the first place and to release anything other than the unabridged work of the consultant would be an insult to those who have the most to gain from what is in it.