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Dalton drama: An apology is in order

January 02. 2013 11:57PM

Sometimes police work requires arresting a suspect quickly based on very little information. The arrest of Dalton Town Clerk Sandy York last year was not one of those times, which should have been obvious to the police chief who had her arrested on the flimsiest of evidence for a crime he imagined seeing.

Part-time Dalton Police Chief Mario Audit said he was reviewing security video when he saw what he claimed was York pocketing town money. He showed the video to Selectmen Chairman Victor St. Cyr, who showed it to the other selectmen. Apparently no one thought to ask York or her coworkers about it, or to see whether any cash was actually missing. Audit had York arrested and banned from town hall based solely on what he saw on the video.

At trial, Jessie Wentworth, the tax collector and deputy clerk, testified that the town always needs to break large bills and that for 14 years York has routinely taken large bills to the bank to get change, which is what York's attorney said she did that day. No money was found missing the next day or any other day. Audit acknowledged that he did not interview York or check the books for missing money before having her arrested and charged with a crime.

Because of such shoddy police work, a longtime town employee's reputation was tarnished. Though she was found not guilty on Monday, she had to endure months of public speculation about her honesty and personal integrity.

Audit owes York a public apology. He should consider apologizing to the town, too, for failing to do his job with the care expected of the chief of police.

Crime, law and justice Politics Editorial Dalton

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