News Or "Small-Town Scandal"?

Or is the matter of a police chief's DUI "a private matter"?

Question: would it be news if the police chief of the City of Parkersburg (or Marietta, or Vienna, or Belpre for that matter) was picked up for drunk driving?

I doubt that, to the general public of those communities, that's even worthy of a question.

For what it's worth, the answer probably would be "yes".  And not because he's a "famous person" like so-called celebrities Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

But, when I recently investigated allegations involving Caldwell, Ohio Police Chief Brian Langley, I was told it was "a private matter".  When I first spoke to the then-mayor of that community (who, I was later told, resigned because he originally wanted to fire the chief), I was told it was "a personnel matter".  "Personnel" is often substituted for "private" in these instances.

Then, on January 31st, the Ohio Highway Patrol charged Langley with Driving Under The Influence in Guernsey County, just north of Caldwell.  That was public record, although the Highway Patrol and the Law Director of Cambridge, Ohio has said little else about the matter.

That happened while Langley was under a 60-day medical leave.  The specific reason for that hasn't been released, although a village council member (who I have been unable to reach since this became public) said the chief had some problems which were not related to alcohol. He also said the council looked into the allegations I mentioned above, and could not verify them.

That conversation took place the same day I spoke to another village official, who made the "private matter" comment, and who claimed the chief would be "devastated" by the arrest becoming public.  I have little doubt that he would.

But, to go back to my original comment: shouldn't a police chief of this or any other community, a person who presumably carries a weapon and has the responsibility of upholding the law, be scruitinized if he violates one of those laws?  And, if he was driving while intoxicated, couldn't he have been a threat to the safety of others?

Before I do any more preaching, I'll stop myself.  I'm part of the generation which came of age during the Watergate scandal; when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were virtually lionized by the media for "bringing down a president".  A lot of people my age who went into journalism were influenced by that scandal.  I wasn't one of them.  I was more interested in covering the news than in changing the world.  And I'm NOT interested in reporting this just to claim glory for someone else's downfall.

I hope that Brian Langley (who was dismissed as of February 20 by the current mayor) can resolve whatever problems (health-related or otherwise) and get his life together again.  And I'm sure he's gratified by the support he has from the community and the village council which hoped he could resolve those issues between December and February.  But he needs to do so in such a way where he's not a threat to himself or others.

And this isn't a "scandal".  This is news.






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