This shouldn't come as a surprise, given that so many police departments in the United States act as if they're beyond the law. Which of course is ironic, given that police are supposed to be enforcers of laws.
But there's an unmistakable whiff of arrogance emanating from police officers these days that didn't seem to be nearly as apparent in years gone by. Partly this could be a defensive reaction to recent well-publicized failures of police officers to do their job competently.
Partly this comes with carrying a gun. That makes many people look upon police as if they were ideal human beings, whereas actually they're just normal human beings like everyone else.
Flawed. Prone to mistakes. Mostly trying to do the right thing yet often coming up short.
A few days ago I wrote about how the Salem Police Department was putting roadblocks in the path of journalist Joe Douglass as he tries to learn via a public record request how the department communicated with members of the Proud Boys prior to a May 1, 2021 Second Amendment rally in Riverfront Park.
Now Ardeshir Tabrizian, a journalist at the Salem Reporter, has described how the Salem Police Department has failed to provide a document describing the separation agreement between the department and Steven Bellshaw, who used to be Deputy Chief.
A longtime Salem Police Department official left his job in February with no public fanfare and under a separation agreement that has since triggered a state investigation.
Secrecy surrounds the circumstances of the retirement of Deputy Chief Steven Bellshaw after 32 years.
City officials have so far not publicly released the separation agreement – and won’t say what the agreement cost the city, if anything.
More than two weeks have elapsed since Salem Reporter on July 12 requested the city of Salem’s separation agreement with Bellshaw, who retired Feb. 15.
...The city has provided no indication when or if it would release the separation agreement for public review.
Hopefully the newly hired City Manager for the City of Salem will prod, or order, staff at the Police Department to be much more open with citizens and journalists.
It doesn't look good when any public agency acts all secretive when they get a request for public records. When the agency has the job of law enforcement, it looks even worse.
If the Salem Police Department has nothing to hide, why are they preventing Joe Douglass and the Salem Reporter from getting the information they've asked for?