The Sentinel-Record 1-17-1977
The disappearance of Linda Edwards has stirred up a great deal of emotion around town. Rumors and criticism abound.
In at least one instance, Mayor Tom Ellsworth has been unnecessarily criticized. In a recent Sentinel-Record editorial, the Mayor was said to have failed to provide help when requested to do so by a brother of Linda Edwards.
The truth is that the Mayor did precisely what the brother asked. He provided a copy of the Civil Service regulations.
The material was delivered several weeks after it was requested, long after the brother had given up on receiving it, but it was provided.
Because the complaint was made public, many will now believe the Mayor is guilty of some wrongdoing, even though the purpose of the editorial was to reassure that city officials are not hindering the investigation.
This is lamentable.
Several things should be learned from the experience.
Certainly, all the facts of a situation should be known before anyone is criticized. This is true regarding the Mayor and is particularly pertinent regarding the police officer who has been under fire since the woman disappeared. Until the truth is discovered, no one has a legitimate right to attack him.
Even if the policeman did commit a crime, which certainly is not a proven fact at this time, there can be no justification for any complaint against him until a crime is proven, and, if he is then found guilty. That’s the way the system works, and it is set up to protect the innocent. The police officer is innocent until proven otherwise.
Mrs. Edwards’ brother requested the material from the Mayor so he could encourage action against the officer by the Civil Service Commission. He apparently found that no such action was possible, which should relive some of the public pressure directed against the Commission.
Finally, it should become obvious that elected officials are easy targets for criticism, justified or not. The Mayor has no control over the investigation, since it is being conducted by the State Police. Still he is expected to work miracles.
Hopefully, a benefit from the distressing disappearance may be a better understanding of what can be realistically expected from elected officials, and a better understanding on their parts of their obligations to the public.