Friday, August 17, 2012

Bad decisions all around

The city of Sun Valley has employees who have been suspended from their duties for months while accountants and lawyers comb through city records to see whether any wrongdoing occurred.

Yet, nearly a week after the city's assistant police chief was cited in Hailey for misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol, he's still on the job.

The assistant chief was off duty last Saturday when he allegedly drove his pickup into downtown Hailey, backed into another car and was arrested. His blood-alcohol level came in at .17, more than double the legal limit of .08 in Idaho.

Sun Valley leaders are heaping bad judgment upon bad judgment in failing to suspend the assistant chief from active duty. The city's police chief says only that the officer is innocent until proven guilty, and Mayor Dwayne Briscoe says he's looking into the matter.

Police officers are trained in the use of deadly force. They carry guns and must exercise good judgment in stressful situations. Sun Valley's assistant chief gave up the right to continue to exercise that judgment when he chose to drink and drive. Technically, he is innocent until proven guilty. However, he should be suspended from active duty until the justice system makes that determination.

The failure to suspend him endangers the public and erodes confidence in law enforcement. It sets one standard for the public and a far lower one for sworn officers of the law—even lower than the one in Sun Valley for employees who don't carry guns for a living.

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