Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings recently sent a directive to Elwood police. Elwood officers should no longer investigate the mayor's family because of the possible appearance of impropriety; such investigations need to come through other agencies.
Did Elwood police really need such prodding to understand the concept of conflict of interest or compromising an investigation? If they did, then perhaps Elwood residents need to rethink the choices they'll make at the next municipal election.
As has been reported in this newspaper, Mayor Ron Arnold's family has experienced some struggles lately. One of his sons, Tyler, 20, is facing felony charges for allegedly shaking an infant boy. Elwood Police Chief Sam Hanna, who was appointed to his post by Ron Arnold, is in charge of the department initially assigned to investigate the Tyler Arnold case.
Due to the appearance of a conflict, Cummings wisely sent a letter to Arnold and Hanna. Cummings noted that officers have conducted several criminal investigations previously involving the Arnold family.
"It is not appropriate or ethical for police officers whom you supervise directly or indirectly to conduct such investigations. It has the appearance of impropriety and causes our citizens to be suspicious that the law applies equally to everyone."
Cummings barred Elwood officers from investigating future cases involving Arnold's family.
That's a unsettling sign when future cases are anticipated involving any family.
Second, no officer or employee of any police force should have to be told when their actions can be construed as political favoritism. Hoosiers expect professionalism from their local police agencies. The Elwood force should be no exception.
The department has to work hard now to regain the public's trust by treating citizens fairly and by keeping the administration of justice transparent.
Such a letter from a prosecutor is rare. No one should have to tell a police department when the appearance of impropriety exists.
In summary The Elwood Police Department has to work hard to regain public trust after being told to avoid the appearance of improprieties.