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Sheriff Howard stomps rights

Register • May 20, 2014 at 10:15 AM

The dust up between Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard and Norwalk police Chief David Light over a botched raid at a Norwalk home in March is a serious dispute. It's brought problems with how Howard operates the sheriff's office to the public's attention, and that's a good thing.

Light was neither anxious or happy to criticize the sheriff; he felt it was necessary. Given the serious mistakes sheriff's deputies appear to have made when they raided the wrong home and handcuffed the wrong man, it seems Light had no option but to air his concerns.

And given Sheriff Howard's refusal to acknowledge the obvious missteps that happened, we agree that these problems are a serious community concern.

Light said sheriff's deputies under Howard have shown a “lack of respect and professional courtesy for our department and our citizens” and deputies have “lack of training, experience and (are) being outright overzealous.” It seems obvious to us that Light is right in that assessment.

Howard and his chief deputy, Capt. Ted Patrick, both have provided the Register misinformation about what occurred on March 25 at 114-1/2 Benedict Ave. Howard declared it a well-executed operation almost immediately, without taking the time it would require to even make such an assessment.

The sheriff did then order an "independent" investigation, but again, he reiterated that the independent investigator's assessment would clear deputies of any procedural errors or wrongdoing before it was even completed, and sure enough, it did.  Howard got the assessment he ordered.

But the sheriff's contention the raid was properly executed is flat-out wrong. His refusal to look at the situation in an unbiased fashion and take corrective steps to assure the rights of residents are not stomped by overzealous and improperly trained deputies shows a lack of judgment.

We appreciate the difficult position it puts Light and the Norwalk Police Department in, and we appreciate Light's willingness to call Howard out on it. Someone had to.

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