Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Those blasted cats again

The Gazette editors published an opinion piece on the conclusion of several Billings Police Department internal investigations (all were reported to be unsubstantiated) that resulted from the Feuerstein trial and massive verdict against the city.

It is interesting that Mayor (and Police Chief at the time of the alleged wrongdoing that led to the lawsuit) Tussing wasn't mentioned once in the opinion piece. This is particularly interesting since the title of the piece was "Good news doesn't dispel BPD problems."

But we did get a whole paragraph (about a quarter of the piece) devoted to the officer who allegedly blew away roadside cats on his evening commute home after work. (He apparently didn't do anything other than euthanize injured animals he came across -- glad we cleared up that important item.)

Seriously, the officer in question is probably owed a prominent spot on the opinion page given all of the grief he took in letters to the editor and in on-line comments.

We would agree with the editors that regardless of what happened, the BPD is still under a cloud, and the current police chief needs to pay attention to proper policies and procedures and make them transparent to the public. As stated on MH before, St. John appears to be a good man for the job, and he should be given a clean slate to improve on the costly mess his predecessor made of things.

Much of the reason that the city lost this huge settlement was that the BPD had poor procedures, poor record keeping, or both -- as well as the perceived arrogance of key city witnesses when they testified. One hopes that the fact that these internal investigations cleared those involved will lead to a new day with fresh attitudes, and not complacency.

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