Your opinion: Jan. 17, 2018

Published 1:46 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2018

No place in law enforcement for admitted criminals
I would first like to commend Ken Henderson for having the fortitude to express his feelings and frustration in his letter to the editor in the Saturday, January 6 Americus Times-Recorder. He appears to be the only person willing to come forward and express his opinion. This situation is a topic of discussion all around Sumter County and I thought many more would come forward expressing their feelings by now.
How many Sheriff’s or Police Chief’s would employ admitted criminals. I don’t know of any that would hire someone that admitted to burglary and theft prior to application to the department. I do believe there is less than a handful that would permit continued employment if the officer is caught committing a crime or admitting to having committed a crime. What is the difference in this case? Should we believe that this was a one-time happening or was this the one time they were caught?
Not only have they committed a crime against a school, there was also a crime to every taxpayer in Sumter County. I do not believe any taxpayer is willing to pay law enforcement officers to play basketball, burglarize a school or break into a concession and steal food and drink. Since the school was not willing to press charges; is it possible that the taxpayers of Sumter County are not desirous of pressing charges for the theft of our tax money?
Does the Sheriff really feel the voters who have elected him on more than one occasion are satisfied with these deputies not being fired? Possibly it is time for the Police Officers Standards and Training to review the certifications of the officers involved. They were sworn to “Serve and Protect”. When they were committing burglary, playing basketball and stealing – they were doing neither.
Robert Ingle Sr.

My two cents
The way I see it, our government needs to be honest, open, and transparent. When the news media publishes a story and the reporting agency fails to give the media the whole story, whether or not it is true, the story stinks of cover-up and corruption.
The alleged incident at Southland Academy … The reporting agency, Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, told channel 10 News that three of their officers and a supervisor were involved in an alleged trespass onto private property. However, the agency refused to name the victim, the officers, and the details of the alleged trespass. They did say that the officers were suspended for five days and will be given some additional training.
Well, that certainly made any reasonable person want to know the rest of the story. We, as citizens, have a right to know the whole truth. Did the reporting agency not know, by not giving the media all the details of the alleged incident, that it would create controversy? They should have.
The Rumor Mill … With all the unanswered questions, the rumor mill jumped into high gear and overtime. Of course, the names and the alleged details were leaked to the public prior to the Americus Times Recorder’s open records request. Prior to the Times Recorder’s request, The Sumter News printed what they were given by anonymous sources and with each printing the details changed leaving the case even more confusing and creating more unanswered questions. That was not the fault of the news media. It was the fault of the reporting agency for not giving all the details.
Social Media … OMG … Who is right and who is wrong? One of the officers picked the locked door with a pocketknife … No, the door was locked but propped open … One of the officers entered the concession stand and got snacks for the others … No, that didn’t happen or did it? What everyone seems to agree on is the three officers parked three county patrol cars, motors running or not, spent nearly three hours on duty, in uniform, playing basketball at Southland Academy.
These officers and their families just want the incident to go away. Yes, the incident is embarrassing for the officers, their families, and friends. And yes, we all make mistakes. God knows I am a sinner and I have made my share of mistakes. However, entering into a building on private property was not a mistake. It was a conscious premeditated decision made by these three officers. They did not trip and fall into the building and land on a bag of chips.
I know and have worked with all four officers for years. I love them as brothers. That being said, I, as a retired LEO, and the other LEO’s that work with these men are also embarrassed by this incident. If they did what Col. Bryant reported to the Times Recorder, it is more than misconduct, it is a crime. I regret the incident. I also regret that the Sheriff’s Office Command Staff failed to do the right thing. The agency reported half-truths in an attempt at what appears to be a cover-up.
That is my opinion.
Lt. Chuck Hanks (retired LEO)