Editorial: LPD clearing self of wrongdoing raises questions


The Lima News



Some in the community, again, are raising a question of fairness concerning a Lima Police Department internal investigation that cleared a white officer of using excessive force against a black citizen.

This time the dispute centers on Sgt. Nick Hart kicking a female teenager while breaking up a violent fight in which she was involved. The LPD investigation determined Hart’s swift kick allowed him to quickly gain control of the situation. It said the amount of force used was “reasonable” and kept the girls from further harming each other.

Case closed?

Not for some.

Struggling with the police department’s explanation is the Rev. Ron Fails, president of the Lima chapter of the NAACP. He has a video that he believes shows the kick was unnecessary because the fight already was under control. As he’s done before, Fails talked about a police cover-up and an assault on the black community.

It’s a frustrating situation in so many ways.

First and foremost is the reluctance of Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin to request an outside agency to investigate racial charges against his officers. Keeping the investigations in-house is not only unfair to the public, but Sgt. Hart as well. The findings always will be suspicious, given they were done by members of the same team.

Thus to avoid any appearance of impropriety, even when none might exist, it is best that such investigations are done by an outside agency such as the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

There are also questions about Fails’ motives. Are his various accusations against police pure in heart, or are they payback for his arrest several years ago of soliciting a prostitute? Does it even matter what his motives are if his accusations are true?

And why didn’t we hear anything from our city council members during Monday’s meeting? Are they supportive of the in-house police investigation? How do they feel about Fails calling for the resignations of Chief Martin and Mayor Berger? Do they have any concerns about what is happening?

If so, now is the time for them to get off the sidelines and into the game and on record with their views.

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