There was a time when many considered the Ohio State Highway Patrol the gold standard with regard to the functionality of a law enforcement agency. It was responsive, thorough and professional.
A merry-go-round of leaders appointed before John Kasich became governor and since, however, resulted in resignations, demotions, allegations and counter allegations from the Patrol's commanders. The dysfunction resulted in scandals ranging from aborted investigations as political favors to the destruction of records, among other things too many to list.
While commanders tarnished the badge in Columbus as they squabbled and jockeyed over who was more corrupt and who should lead, the deteriorating professionalism was not lost on the rank and file. Some Patrol posts across the state were found to have cheaters who were unfit to wear a police uniform, including 12 in the Canton area who falsified test results on qualifying exams.
More recently, allegations of sexual misconduct, domestic violence and falsification against Patrol personnel happen without any adequate response from Columbus. We know there are many fine Patrol troopers, and we sympathize with them for having to endure the fallout from failed leadership.
But the pattern continues.
On Dec. 26, the Patrol issued a news release detailing some information about an accident on U.S. 20 in Wakeman that appears to have been caused by black ice on the highway. The release provided information about a two-car accident that resulted in the death of a young woman.
The Norwalk post of the Patrol left out some important details, however, without explanation.
A third vehicle — a Wakeman police cruiser — hit the same patch of black ice as the officer was responding and he crashed into the two vehicles involved in the accident.
Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston could not explain why that important detail was left out of the news release. Subsequent crash reports from the Patrol appear to painstakingly attempt to show the police cruiser did not crash into the vehicle in which the young woman who died was a passenger, despite multiple statements from witnesses that it did.
We're not sure why the Patrol lacked transparency, full disclosure and integrity concerning this crash. We suspect it was protecting the Wakeman Police Department. That's sure what it appears to be.
This was a terrible, tragic accident, and the investigation of it appears compromised. The Patrol failed the families involved and further diminished its reputation.
Ohioans deserve better.