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Observations: Police reaction shows their professionalism

July 21, 2014

in Local

SWO-webBy Pete Daniels
Contributing editor

The Sedalia Police Department’s professionalism took center stage recently in Liberty Park when a man there forced them into a standoff, according to published reports.

The man in question apparently made a 911 call to police that ultimately sent officers to the park, where they saw the man on the park’s bridge holding what seemed to be a rifle.

Naturally, that posed a threat to the public and people were forced to leave the park for safety reasons. A number of things could have happened then and not all of them were pleasant.

However, as noted by Police Chief John DeGonia, the department’s commanders and officers relied on their training and handled the problem professionally, ending in the man’s arrest. He is now facing a number of charges.

The entire episode was handled without a lot of fanfare. No shots were fired and no one was injured. The day could have ended disastrously, but didn’t.

The public’s perception of police officers is generally somewhat negative and that’s because most people don’t understand what police work is all about. That’s unfortunate.

Sedalia’s police department at one time had something called the Citizens Police Academy. It’s main objective was to lessen the gap between police and the public, and it worked. Those who participated in the academy came away from the experience with a far better knowledge of a cop’s day in this world than they had before they attended.

Most police confrontations with the public occur because they have to, not because a police officer wants them to. Contact with the public, however, can be positive, but it takes the cooperation of the public to make that happen.

Anyone who breaks the law, even inadvertently, will eventually face a police officer. What happens then is up to that individual.

We should all remember that we have police officers mainly to protect us from ourselves. Cops don’t want to fight with us. They’d much prefer to live among us peacefully. These folks are, after all, our neighbors.

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All of Sedalia can now be at ease — the Sedalia City Council has formally adopted a code of conduct for itself and the mayor, setting a precedent for the city.

Sedalia was founded in 1857. That was a time when two people could seal a deal with a handshake and when misdeeds, as they were perceived then, were dealt with virtually on the spot. Folks back then still considered the Golden Rule to be something of value and didn’t bother with lawyers and such unless forced to.

Suggestions that the town back then adopt a code for its officials would have been viewed with a jaundiced eye.

But times change, as we all know, and Sedalia’s city fathers decided it would be a good thing for our city elected officials to establish and then observe some standards for themselves. After all, folks hired by the city have to observe the rules, so why not?

As we reported in last week’s edition of The Sedalia Weekly Observer, section one of this new code specifies that “the council must work first for the betterment of all Sedalia.

“The council/mayor agree to work as a team to find the best ways to meet the needs of Sedalia residents…,” it says.

Further (and you may find this a bit odd), “the council and mayor must refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks on the character or motives of council members, board/commission members, staff and the public.”

In other words, behave like a decent human being or face the consequences, whatever they might be.

We don’t know who originated this idea, or who formulated this new code, but we do hope that it has some positive results.

You can make the assumption that the code is a good idea. After all, we don’t want the mayor and council to engage in open brawls during their meetings although, from a reporter’s point of view, that might make for a good story…

If you have an opinion on these topics, or any other, please contact us at sedaliaobserver@gmail.com, write to us at Sedalia Weekly Observer, 2700 West Broadway, Suite 10, Sedalia, Mo., 65301, including your name, address and telephone number so that we may verify you are the author. Or, just drop by for a visit. We’ll make time for you.

 

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