LOGO19 Editorial Our View.jpg

In May 2018, Adam Watters entered a bar with a person under 21, his sister, who consumed alcoholic drinks.

Late one night in February 2019, he was stopped by the Indiana State Police for driving 90 mph in a 45-mph zone on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

And early Friday morning, Indiana State Police allege, Watters beat his girlfriend.

All of this has happened in the 19 months since Watters joined the Anderson Police force. Even his induction into the APD was marked by trouble.

Watters, the son of Anderson Police Chief Tony Watters, was given preferential seniority treatment among the four officers hired Oct. 13, 2017, according to a grievance filed by the Anderson Fraternal Order of Police.

Departing from the standard protocol of officers being sworn in according to alphabetical order, Adam Watters had been moved to the front of the class, which also included Sean Brady, Andrew Lanane and Courtney Skinner.

Adam Watters, 23, wasn't culpable for this flouting of seniority protocol, which cast suspicion instead on his father.

But the younger Watters should be accountable in the other instances since he joined the police force — bringing an under-aged person into a bar (Watters was suspended for a day without pay), driving twice the legal speed limit, and, above all, the alleged attack Friday.

Adam Watters reportedly entered the Anderson home of his girlfriend without permission and battered the woman, choking her. After the woman's grandfather disrupted the incident, Watters fled, according to authorities. He was arrested at his father's home.

Adam Watters faces Level 6 felony charges of residential entry, official misconduct, strangulation, criminal confinement and misdemeanor charges of battery, intimidation and interference with the reporting of a crime.

The Indiana State Police will continue to investigate the Friday incident.

If convicted, he could spend as much as 30 months in prison on each felony count.

The outcome of the criminal case is important to the community, which always has an interest in the safety of purported victims and in defendants being judged fairly and, if found guilty, being punished appropriately.

But Adam Watters' fate as an Anderson police officer carries other ramifications.

Watters was hired under a cloud of favoritism and nepotism and has been in increasingly serious trouble three times in less than two years.

The handling of his long-range status as an APD officer will either renew the public's confidence in the system — or will utterly undermine it. The decision, in particular, will reflect on Mayor Tom Broderick, and the man he promoted to police chief, Tony Watters.

Adam Watters has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, a decision made by Assistant Chief Jake Brown, who will oversee an internal APD investigation.

The Anderson Board of Public Safety must ratify the action, according to the mayor.

Broderick added that the safety board could place the younger Watters on long-term paid or unpaid administrative leave. The board will ultimately have the authority over his position on the police force.

The safety board should not be swayed by politics. It should matter neither one way nor the other that Adam Watters is the chief's son.

After waiting to learn the outcome of the state police and APD internal investigations, the board must bear in mind this singular question: If the charges from the Friday incident stand, should a man with three behavioral strikes against him in 19 months, including an alleged attack on a woman in her home, wear the badge of an Anderson police officer?

The only valid answer, of course, is no.