Questions answered, it’s time to move on

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, speech, the press and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Along with freedom of the press comes the constitutional responsibility to serve as a watchdog of governmental activities.

We take that responsibility seriously. Driven by questions and concerns raised by some community members, including some within the Susanville Police Department, for the last month or so we have been seeking answers to those questions and some others about the recent hiring of John King as the city of Susanville’s new chief of police. This was never about him personally. We are simply doing our job to bring transparency to the process.

Susanville City Administrator Jared Hancock recently issued a statement— which we would argue should have been released weeks ago — regarding the city’s perspective on the matter while answering some of these lingering questions.

According to Hancock’s statement, the council unanimously directed him, as the city administrator, in closed session to make a conditional offer of employment to the new chief of police and conduct a preemployment screening, background investigation and verification of qualifications.

The Susanville Municipal Code grants Hancock the authority to hire most employees with the approval of the city council. However, as regular watchdogs of local government, our first question when we learned a new chief of police had been hired was when did the council take action to hire him?

King was formally introduced to the community at the Feb. 1 city council meeting. However, there is no report of the city council’s decision to hire King anywhere in council’s minutes.

An independent investigation into a crime report alleging the impersonation of a police officer and the forgery of a document is underway and sources close to the investigation expect it will be completed soon. We look forward to learning and reporting the results of that investigation.

But now it’s time for us to move forward as a community, to welcome and embrace King as our newly hired chief of police.

We trust that he was indeed the right choice and is capable of leading the department, its officers and its staff. Editorials are written by members of the editorial board, which consists of the publisher, the managing editor and the news editor, and should be considered the opinion of the newspaper.