Friday, November 25, 2016

Mayor Roswarski Right to Stand Up Against Needle Exchange Program




Mayor Roswarski
Mayor Tony Roswarski was right to challenge the proposed ill-conceived needle exchange program and we commend him for it. Tippecanoe County citizens are weary of the violent crime sprees infecting their community, and this will only serve to add to those woes.

Placing an exchange program near parks and schools is intolerable, not to mention the huge liability risk associated with handing out needles to drug users. Who will pay the potential judgments when
the county is sued for providing the needles that assisted in probable deaths caused by overdoses? Taxpayers will likely be on the hook for it.

Prison reform should be implemented to address this issue. Locking up drug users for long periods of time exacerbates the problem and gives addicts a place to meet new addicts.

A better way to address the problem is to offer recovery help and real hope to desperate addicts. We applaud Mayor Roswarski for working with the faith-based community. Real strides have been made, and it was refreshing to see the Journal and Courier report on one such program.

We call on concerned citizens to make their voices heard. The safety of our children and grandchildren may depend on it.  Call the Commissioners today at (765) 423-9215.

Monday, November 14, 2016

LPD Scandals Continue to Plague Community

It doesn't look like the Lafayette Police Department has learned its lesson since the last fiasco involving drunken police officers.  The community has barely had a chance to heal from the scandal involving drunken officers who threatened to kill a private citizen.  Now, we learn of new allegations involving two officers recently suspended for alleged drunken behavior. 

With few details being disseminated to the public, we can only imagine that it must be shocking considering the punishment was similar to the offenses committed by Officer Charles Williams, Jr. and his drunken cohorts.  Many in the community believe mere suspensions were not enough and that the officers should have been criminally charged for their alleged criminal offenses.   Now, Officers William Meluch and Blake Baker-Switzer have also received short suspensions at the recommendation of the merit board. 

Unfortunately, these new veiled allegations and subsequent mild consequences come as no surprise to the public.  This is the type of behavior that one can expect when police officer-perpetrators are not held to the same standards of justice that Joe and Jane Public would receive.

LPD Police Chief Patrick Flannelly declined to reveal the misconduct by the officers, but told a Journal and Courier reporter that "a majority of discipline cases never rise to the level of merit board."  "...We're always going to hold ourselves to those standards that our community would expect," Flannelly commented.

With all due respect, there are many in the community who believe the standards of accountability for a police officer are much less than they would be for a private citizen even though they should be equal to or even higher.  Had Joe or Jane Citizen committed the offenses that some in the LPD have been accused of, he or she would have faced charges and a trip to the county jail. 

Even Purdue University has higher standards for its employees.  Just ask Pablo Malavenda, the former assistant dean of students, who was fired from his university job after being charged with theft from Wal-Mart.  The excuse that the drunken officers who threatened to kill a private citizen weren't fired because they were not on duty when they committed the alleged crimes doesn't resonate with the public for the same reasons that Pablo didn't get to keep his job.  The integrity of the University was at stake.  Where is the integrity at the LPD?

The community would like nothing more than to respect the Lafayette Police Department, but the bad apples and its ineffective leadership is making it difficult.  We will continue to salute the many officers who do their jobs with distinction, but when officers do not receive the respect they believe they are deserved, please understand that the bad apples may be part of the cause.   One bad apple truly can spoil the whole bunch.

The Lafayette Citizen Journal is back because it is apparent lessons have not been learned.  The citizens of Lafayette deserve better.  We can be reached at annafriend@gmail.com. 


Saturday, August 27, 2016

LPD Officers Apologize to Vanderplaats for Behavior As Part of Legal Settlement

Tim VanderPlaats
It's finally over for Tim VanderPlaats.  The legal battle that began over four years ago against the Lafayette Police Department and individual police officers came to an end this month after an out-of-court settlement was reached. 

VanderPlaats was beaten unconscious near his home shortly after he was verbally harassed and threatened by drunken LPD police officers at a local restaurant.  None of the officers were charged with the crimes they committed, and they all kept their jobs as police officers.  This was unacceptable to the victim, so he pursued the matter in court.

An appeals court judge eventually relieved the City of Lafayette from the case, but allowed it to proceed against individual officers.  Charlie Williams, Jr. had admitted that he left graphic and threatening voice messages. 

VanderPlaats contended that the officer suspected of beating him was, in fact, on duty at the time the crime occurred; however, unless one of the officers breaks the "code of silence," there is not enough evidence to prove it.

Ironically, VanderPlaats received the one thing he wanted from the beginning, which was an apology from the officers and their city bosses.  In exchange for closing the matter, VanderPlaats recently accepted letters of apology from the City of Lafayette, Charlie Williams, Jr., and Michael Barthelemy.

"They said they were sorry for all the unlawful calls, terrible voicemails and being drunk and stupid," stated Tim VanderPlaats.  "They said they would take it all back if they could."

VanderPlaats was also reimbursed by the City of Lafayette for the enormous legal fees he incurred in the matter.   "It was never about the money," said VanderPlaats.  "It was always about the injustice of it all."

VanderPlaats is relieved it is over, and that although it was horrible what they did, he says apologies were helpful as he seeks to find closure for the horrific nightmare that he and his family suffered.

The letters have not yet been released to the public; however, VanderPlaats says that the sincerest apology came from Charlie Williams, Jr.  "He seemed to be genuinely sorry," commented VanderPlaats.

VanderPlaats' supporters are also happy that it's over for Tim.

"He took on the establishment for the good of the community," commented one Lafayette resident who asked to remain unnamed.  "If an average citizen would have committed these crimes, he would have a criminal record now, and he certainly wouldn't be put in charge of upholding the laws they broke."

Tim is moving on with his life, and he doesn't have time to hold any grudges.  He is now happily married and the couple have a beautiful baby girl to focus on.

It's too bad it took city officials over four years to do the right thing.  Properly handled, this matter could have been settled years ago.  Victims should not be forced to seek justice in civil court.  The individual officers were finally set free to make proper amends, so now their lives can move in a more positive direction as well. 

Let the healing begin.