Public Safety officer needed to resign
BY World's Editorial Writers
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
2/15/12 at 4:05 AM
The Department of Public Safety did not need another scandal or more credibility problems. That is why the swift resignation of Scott Barger is important.
Barger was fired from the Department of Corrections for his role in a 1995 altercation at the Lexington prison that resulted in a successful lawsuit by 10 inmates who claimed they were beaten by prison officers.
A story in Sunday's Tulsa World by Ziva Branstetter and Barbara Hoberock revealed DPS Commissioner Michael Thompson had hired Barger to a position he created, assistant director of the Office of Highway Safety. Barger resigned Tuesday.
Thompson told the World he wasn't aware of Barger's dismissal from DOC when he hired him last year. He and Barger attended the same high school, worked together at Lexington and attended National Guard Officer Candidate School together.
Thompson said that even if he had known of the firing from DOC, he would have still hired Barger.
The DPS, which is the branch of government that oversees the Highway Patrol, did not need this bad publicity. A few years ago the patrol made news when a trooper was involved in an ugly incident with an emergency medical services employee who was trying to transport an ill woman to a Prague hospital.
The fact is, the Highway Patrol is filled with honest and dependable men and women who do one of the toughest jobs in the state. They spend hours alone on lonely roads and highways. They pitch in when small towns don't have the police manpower for enforcement or investigations.
This incident should have no reflection on those who do their jobs. Unfortunately, it will.
The investigation into Barger's background should have been more thorough. Anyone who accepts the public's trust and the public's money ought to be held to higher standards.
It is disturbing that Thompson says he would have hired Barger anyway. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the people of the state deserve better than that.
Barger needed to go. At least it was a swift decision.
Original Print Headline: Swift exit