Monday, June 4, 2012

Simpson Case Spotlights Councillor Conduct Again

City-County Councillor
Joe Simpson
I don’t know Councillor Joe Simpson, but I think I know this from reading what is alleged to have happened at his next door neighbor's house: he’s probably guilty of bad judgement.

As most of you have probably heard, Simpson, the City-County Councillor representing District 9, allegedly interfered with a police investigation and was arrested on Sunday when he allegedly refused leave the scene. It’s, at minimum, another embarrassment for a City-County Council that doesn’t need it.

I must admit that anytime I’ve ever seen police working a scene that I’ve never run up and tried to be a part of what is going on. Instead, I might ask someone else what’s happening or wait to see what’s going on from the safety of my home.

I had something similar happen a few weeks ago. While I was getting dinner together, I heard the sound of diesel engines outside the house. When I walked outside, I noticed an ambulance and fire truck parked on my side of the street. I didn’t run up and ask them what was going on. Instead, I stood back and watched as my neighbor’s mother was loaded into an ambulance. I didn’t know that I had missed my neighbor’s father being wheeled out in severe medical distress after he collapsed without warning. He later died.

I’m not saying that my situation is the same as the one that Simpson was presented with on Sunday evening, but I am saying that I would allow first responders…be it police, fire, or paramedics to do their jobs without interference. I would have nothing to add to the situation I just described even though I know CPR and am on the Decatur Township Civilian Fire Merit Commission. When there was a fire in the dumpster outside my apartment a few years ago, I didn’t grab a fire hose and try to help. I let the professionals do their jobs and kept quiet about my status on their Merit Commission.

Simpson, if what went down is as it is being reported, would have been smart to do the same thing, I think. No sense being a hero when lives are on the line.  It should be noted that he did apologize to the officers, according to the Indianapolis Star, saying that he "messed up."

He has put Terry Curry in the tough position of requesting a special prosecutor in this case. It is absolutely the right thing to do for Curry, but he shouldn’t have been in this position. No one should have been put in this position.

Simpson is just the latest Councillor accused of wrongdoing.  Marion County Republican Chair Kyle Walker is exploiting the case for political gain releasing this statement:

"The arrest of Democrat City-County Councillor Joseph Simpson is the second time in less than four years that a Democrat Councillor has been arrested for violating the law and then resisting law enforcement. Our police officers have a tough enough job without such disrespect and interference from Democrat members of the City-County Council. This pattern of contempt for our public safety officers needs to stop immediately. I call upon Council President Maggie Lewis to remove Councillor Simpson from the Public Safety Committee and Law Enforcement Study Commission and to condemn the actions of her fellow Democrats in hopes that this pattern does not continue."

Walker is referring to the arrest of former Councillor Doris Minton-McNeill, who is no longer on the Council.  She didn't even run for reelection.  Reminding people of the past even though the past is no longer the present should be expected from Walker.  Walker would be asking her to condemn the actions of someone who is no longer on the Council and whose arrest occurred before Maggie Lewis was President of the Council.  On Simpson, I'd say let’s let the legal process play out. Perhaps more information will come to light and Simpson will be exonerated.  Besides, Walker's caucus' own past isn't perfect.  Former Councillor Lincoln Plowman sits in a federal prison right now after being convicted of bribery while he was a sitting Councillor.

Whatever happens, when you’re a City-County Councillor or a public official, you are held to a higher standard of conduct in public. It might serve all Councillors, including Joe Simpson, to remember that.

UPDATE:
Joe Simpson was cleared of all charges in November 2012.

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