Everyone — except criminals — wants police to be thorough in their investigations. If they're not, unsolved crimes or, even worse, falsely accused suspects result. And that can lead to a colossal waste of resources and public money.
So, it's distressing to think that an Anderson Police Department probe of a single incident involving one of their own took four months to reach a conclusion. All during that time, Officer John Wilson was on paid leave, meaning he had a long, long, long vacation at taxpayer expense.
The starting salary for an APD patrolman in 2016 was $46,876. Wilson, a veteran of the department, makes considerably more than that. The city's bill for his four-month paid leave would be in the neighborhood of $15,000 to $20,000.
Granted, police internal investigations and disciplinary decisions can be complex undertakings. There are contractual considerations with the union, there's the board of public safety to pass through and then there's the officer himself and his legal counsel.
But still— four months?
A July 30 news article in The Herald Bulletin detailed Wilson's alleged transgression and current status. He was to return from his paid hiatus early this month and serve a five-day suspension without pay, followed by probation.
This outcome indicates that the APD and the city of Anderson took the allegations against Wilson seriously.
But still — four months?
It all started on April 6, when Anderson resident Jason Winters called for police assistance as he tried to move out of a Poplar Street home where his relationship with another tenant had soured. Wilson responded to the call, and Winters complained that the APD officer attacked him, slamming his head against a door jamb and shouting obscenities at him.
Winters said that he'd had other run-ins with Wilson, and the officer had become frustrated that Winters was calling for police assistance so frequently.
Wilson was put on leave with pay immediately after the April 6 incident, and Winters' complaint was legitimized when the city of Anderson paid him a $2,000 settlement a week later.
So, it took the city one week to determine that it should give $2,000 in taxpayer money to a complainant but four months of paid leave to decide what to do about the officer involved.
When APD Chief Tony Watters was asked why it had taken so long to reach a decision about Wilson, he verbally shrugged. "It's an ongoing investigation; they can be lengthy," he said.
But still — four months?
For related news articles, search for "Jason Winters" at heraldbulletin.com.