The “rule of law” also known as nomocracy, refers to the influence and authority of law within a society. As a concept it implies every citizen is subject to the law.
The United Nations defines the rule as: a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.
Unfortunately for citizens of northern Ohio the rule of law, as applied, has no jurisdiction here.
How many times have we witnessed law enforcement here in Erie County and surrounding areas commit crimes and escape prosecution to the fullest extent of the law?
At this point we have seen it all, from the theft of Girl Scout Cookies in 1992, to the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl participating in a cop ride-along program in 2003, to the current adventures of Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper Ricky Vitte Jr. giving an adolescent boy a hands-on lesson in masturbating.
Does the public get the same deferential treatment in the criminal justice system? No. Courts nonchalantly dispense merciless sentences on non-privileged citizens accused of similar crimes?
In the recent incident involving trooper Vitte, Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt chose not to seek an indictment knowing Vitte has a history of violence and inappropriate behavior toward women and children.
What is the message Stierwalt is sending by not pursuing charges on Vitte?
If you had a history of bullying your family, teaching young boys how to masturbate and fleeing the local sheriff department in your employer’s company vehicle, would you still have your job let alone your freedom?
When was the last time you opened up your Register and read of an average citizen leading police on a chase reaching speeds of 60 mph remaining free at the conclusion of the peril?
Theodore Roosevelt was quoted saying “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it”
At what cost do we slap the wrist of those hired to uphold and enforce the law? Is not a crime committed by a person in a trusted position to serve and protect even more egrigous?
When an officer of the law violates the law, they should, at the very least, receive the same crime and punishment routinely dished out to non-law enforcement people.
Does the public standing, occupation, or any other variable of an offender lessen the effect a crime has on a victim? If not, every crime committed should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law regardless of who the offender may be.
There is something solemn about being a cop. After all, these are the men and women we rely upon to safeguard our friends, family and neighbors. We campaign our cops to our children as exemplary public servants to be trusted with their very lives.
Some would say a “community betrayal specification” to enhance the degree of the crime is necessary and such behavior from officers of the law compromises public opinion of the judicial system.
What happens when we view our cops as crooks? Does a raid become a home invasion, does an arrest become a kidnapping, does a bond become a ransom, does an inmate become a hostage?
The prevailing law of the land can only thrive if its integrity is beyond question and its consequences are administered indiscriminately. The very concept of law demands it.