Incredible as it may seem, the city of Oneonta's mayor and a majority of Common Council members don't seem to think last year's police scandal was a very big deal.
How they can not see the damage done to the city's reputation and _ even more importantly _ to the integrity of all the good cops who serve our city defies belief.
Yet, by refusing to have an outside investigation of the Oneonta Police Department, they are refusing to do the only thing that can restore the public's confidence in these brave and honorable men and women.
Mayor Dick Miller and Alderman Erik Miller both came out for an outside investigation during a League of Women Voters mayoral debate leading up to the November election.
Now, they are closing their eyes and hoping this will all go away.
Not when you have three cops allegedly involved while on duty in a series of encounters with young women from July through September that included sex, drinking, giving rides in a police car and allowing one of the women to drive a police car while intoxicated.
"Frankly, I don't think certain members of the council are taking it seriously enough," Alderman Mike Lynch has said,
Lynch is absolutely right. The city is acting as if there is something to hide when there probably isn't. Yet, there are questions that have yet to be answered.
1) What kind of culture and training existed in the department that would allow policemen to think they could get away with such horrendous behavior?
2) Surely other police officers knew this was going on or at least had their suspicions. Why did it take so long for it to be reported to their superiors? Does their loyalty lie more with their cohorts or with the department, city and its citizens?
3) There are many in our community who remember the 1992 "Black List" scandal from which Oneonta's police department and the state police still haven't totally recovered. What makes anyone think that just saying "trust us" is any solution?
Even more than for the public, an outside investigation is absolutely vital for all the good cops, who, we believe, would welcome such an inquiry.
They are the ones on the street who see the mistrust in the eyes of citizens. They are the ones who know that sunlight is not only the best disinfectant, but in this instance, the only disinfectant.
The scandal is a very big deal. The city cannot remain tone deaf to that fact.
There must be an outside, independent investigation.