The punishment (and attendant reeducation) of two Bedford police officers may have been a bit harsh for their offense but that’s difficult to determine. In fact, Chief John Bryfonski has not shed much light on l’affaire TikTok, in which two of his men using the video social platform apparently acted more like teenagers than sworn officers of the law.
Regrettably, the lack of transparency (including withholding the names of the two officers) is par for the course. When it comes to transgressions by public servants, particularly police, the public is kept very much in the dark. It is not for us to know who it is and what he or she did. That makes it a bit difficult for the people paying the salaries of the police to know whether the actions and reactions are reasonable and appropriate.
In the Bedford case, one of the two officers was recorded saying “no liberals allowed.” This caused a citizen to complain that he now feels less safe in Bedford. Good grief.
The two officers have been suspended and will undergo “diversity training,” according to the chief. This will include tutoring on “cultural awareness” and “implicit bias.” How is this appropriate? The chief said his investigation would produce the facts and evidence. Best of luck to Bedford citizens trying to get that information.
We don’t mean to single out Chief Bryfonski here. Withholding of information when it comes to public personnel matters is rampant. Attempts to remedy this in our state are still wending their way through the courts. Add the strictures of some police union contracts and it is a wonder that a police chief is able to tell the public the time of day let alone whether an officer has abused the public trust.
That is not healthy for the public paying the bills and relying on police and it is unfair to the police themselves, the great majority of whom do a good job in often difficult circumstances. New Hampshire requires that disciplinary hearings for doctors and lawyers be open. The same should surely apply to law enforcement officers.