State police wrapped up their investigation recently into allegations that an off-duty police officer raped a village resident at her home in mid August. Criminal charges will not be filed in the case, bringing closure to at least one chapter in this story.
Still remaining are an internal review of that officer’s behavior and a range of possible sanctions, which could, under the most dire circumstances, include termination. Chief James Ryan is expected to begin that process this week with the village’s attorney. Clearly, there is still much to be decided.
Without a detailed accounting from either of the parties involved, this page will refrain from making any punitive recommendations. We trust police and village officials will at the very least issue a reminder to all public officials that regardless of whether they are on the clock, the general public will always view them as an ambassador from village hall.
There are other facets of this case that the public is aware of, however. Mayor Anthony Calderone and Ryan were clearly at odds over whether the village should speak to any of the public’s concerns. Calderone was frank and accessible. Ryan was not. Regardless of whether the mayor was trying to save face and get ahead of the story or he was sincere in wanting to quell unnecessary anxiety, he deserves credit for addressing the matter. Ryan does not.
The chief’s decision to immediately place the accused officer on paid leave and turn the case over to an outside agency is commendable. He can not be accused of sweeping the issue under the rug or pressuring his officers to conduct a phony investigation. But his stubborn insistence that the public is owed no explanation in this case sends an entirely different message when compared to his handling of other personnel matters.
Immediately following an October 2006 ruling from the Fire and Police Commission that former Sgt. Dan Harder violated several department policies, Ryan insisted that Harder is guilty of committing adultery with a female officer. Earlier that summer both he and the mayor were eager to tip this newspaper off to a scandalous story involving Sgt. Maureen Frawley and a pile of cash and guns that went missing from her home. Ryan would later suggest that Frawley was under federal investigation, an allegation that she denies and this paper regrettably printed without verifying the information.
The duplicity with which these other cases were handled in light of Ryan’s eagerness to protect the reputation of the officer accused last month is obvious and alarming. That said, we doubt Ryan’s behavior is creating a rift in village hall. He received a pay raise from the village council in the midst of this most recent scandal.