CHARLESTON Mayor Danny Jones was angry when he found out that the Charleston Police Department had omitted the name of a prominent person from an announcement about individuals who were arrested in a July prostitution sting.
"Leaving that name off that press release was a real mistake," the mayor said Tuesday in a news conference he called in response to a story in the Daily Mail.
That story, by reporter Dave Boucher, revealed that well-known lobbyist and former Caperton administration official Phil Reale had been arrested in the July 11 sting, but was not named in the routine press release issued the next day by Charleston police.
"Whether it's me, my son, or anybody, they ought to be treated the same," he said. "I think Phil Reale should be treated like anyone else. I've instructed the city attorney that's how I feel about it."
Police Sgt. Bobby Eggleton purposely omitted Reale's name, not because of Reale's prominence, but because of his desperation at being arrested.
Eggleton said in his 20 years as a police office, he'd never seen anyone so distraught over an alleged misdemeanor. He said he thought the accused might be suicidal.
Jones said Sgt. Eggleton was just showing compassion. "I think he's one of the best police officers out there."
The police have a tough job. Officers must use their judgment and make crucial decisions every day. The sergeant, in his judgment, thought for this situation - involving a distraught accused person with no prior criminal history - that the best thing to do would be to not reveal the arrest.
The sergeant's compassion is laudable, but the mayor is right. For the city police department, like all government agencies, transparency is of utmost importance. The organization is funded by taxpayers and its leaders are elected by the voters.
The mayor, who previously had to publicly deal with his own son's illegal drug activity, corrected the situation.