Editorials

Police should be treated the same as everyone else

Police video of Art McClung traffic stop

This video is from two Pascagoula Police Department dashcams recorded during a traffic stop in Pascagoula on July 29, 2016, involving Moss Point Police Chief Art McClung.
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This video is from two Pascagoula Police Department dashcams recorded during a traffic stop in Pascagoula on July 29, 2016, involving Moss Point Police Chief Art McClung.

The official reaction to the traffic stop of Moss Point Police Chief Art McClung has been far from reassuring.

From the beginning, officials told the Sun Herald and the public to move along, there’s nothing to see here.

We disagree. We see the public’s trust in police fading, which is sad.

Sad because most police officers are good people doing a tough job.

Then along comes McClung, reportedly after a few drinks, speeding through Pascagoula. And Pascagoula Chief Kenny Johnson affording McClung treatment much different than the average DUI suspect.

And Pascagoula City Manager Joe Huffman assuring us the matter has been laid to rest.

It’s all troubling. First, the city of Pascagoula did not release any information about the traffic stop, or the video recording of the stop, until the Sun Herald filed a public-records request.

Over in Moss Point, the chief essentially told the Sun Herald the matter was none of its business and if it pursued the story, that would change the relationship between the paper and the police — and not for the better.

And guess who loses. The people of Moss Point. The people who won’t know when crimes are being committed in their neighborhoods or when they are in danger.

We agree with Huffman, who said Johnson had to make a judgment call based on incomplete evidence. He made a mistake. It should not be a career-ender.

As for the other Pascagoula officers, they did the right thing. They saw a danger to the public and they stopped the speeding vehicle without incident, possibly averting a tragedy.

We wish Johnson had allowed the investigation to continue.

McClung should have been afforded a day in court, where he could have either proved he was not impaired and not driving 50 mph over the speed limit or faced the consequences.

The Board of Aldermen has suspended him without pay, which suggests it believes there is a problem.

We know there is. The problem is secrecy. We understand police often must conduct investigations on the sly. No problem.

But that wasn’t the case here. This was a very public traffic stop.

Justice should have been allowed to run its course. This preferential treatment should not be repeated in Pascagoula or anywhere.

We’d like to hear that message loud and clear from Pascagoula and Moss Point.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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