Our View: No place for politics

August 31, 2011 12:54:00 PM

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We consider public safety a right, not a privilege. 

 

We expect to be able to walk down the street without being assaulted and to come home to our undisturbed portion of the world -- everything just the way we left it. 

 

The police department is responsible for protecting those rights, for your person and your property. It''s not a political gig. 

 

But in Columbus, those who appoint the police chief -- the Columbus city councilmen -- do have political gigs. Gentlemen, don''t let that get in the way of choosing the best man or woman for the job. 

 

The city has gotten about 60 applications for the job. Soon, the city council will appoint a committee to screen the applications. And the council will vet the top picks. 

 

We encourage the councilmen to set politics aside in making appointments to the committee. Choosing a chief of police is about what''s best for the community, not making power plays or leveraging support. 

 

As we''ve said before, leadership is important. Choosing the right leader can make all the difference. We need to find the best person possible, be they homegrown or from afar. 

 

We hope a dynamic, highly competent leader with a strong independent streak is among the field of applicants, and we hope the committee charged with the selection has the discernment to find him or her.  

 

When former Chief of Police Joseph St. John came under fire for his alcohol abuse, a group of sympathetic community members rallied around him, calling councilmen and the mayor in an effort to sway the vote. They threatened to vote the current council out of office if they let him go. 

 

The councilmen didn''t cave under the pressure. When St. John wouldn''t take a resignation offer, they made the tough call and fired him. 

 

To their credit, the council did the right thing, not what was popular. 

 

Let''s continue to do what''s best for the community, in apolitical fashion. 

 

We hope the candidates, regardless of their current position or popularity, will have an even playing field. They deserve that, and so do we.