Results of police investigations must be made public

July 23, 2013

Seven weeks ago, a state trooper struck a pedestrian while driving on Route 1, a straight, well-lighted section of road­way with sidewalks and shoulders. No charges were filed.

State police investigated, and the Attorney General’s Office investigated. Taxpayers paid for both investigations, yet so far, despite repeated requests, neither agency has released updated information.

What happened? Shouldn’t the public know how a person said to be walking along the highway could be struck by a police officer, whose job it is to protect people? If an officer can’t avoid striking a pedestrian, how can a civilian with far less training avoid striking people?

If the investigation is now complete, the findings must be made public. Was there a video? Did the officer take a blood test? Was the officer texting or updating his computer? If the pedestrian darted in front of the police car, then why not make that public so other drivers can be wary along that stretch of road?

If evidence exists to show the officer was driving properly and not impaired, why not clear the air?

Two weeks after that accident, a prominent Rehoboth attorney fatally struck a pedes­trian walking across the highway in the same general area. More than a month later, no new information has been released. Was a blood test done? Was the driver’s cellphone record checked? Did video of the incident shed light on what happened?

Two serious accidents in about two weeks on the same stretch of road require an expla­nation. Are investigations done for the benefit of police or are they done so the public will know what is happening in our towns and neighborhoods? Continued silence, weeks later, generates rumor, when what is needed are the simple facts police have gathered in their effort to determine what happened.

Gov. Jack Markell and Attorney General Beau Biden both claim to want transparency in government.

These accidents are good opportunities for much-needed transparency.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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