The New Professionalism

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Terrific editorial in the Star News, a newspaper in northeastern North Carolina.

New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey doesn’t plan to change a thing about the way his SWAT team is trained and operated.

That seemed to surprise editors at other North Carolina newspapers, which quickly put the Star-News story on their Web sites Monday morning. But it was no surprise to people who’ve watched the way this sheriff operates.

Causey and his staff never make mistakes. Not serious ones, anyway.

Four years ago, the sheriff said he would make no changes whatsoever when another of his deputies seriously injured a jail inmate, who died after he was not given appropriate medical care. That deputy was transferred to another job, but the official line was that the shift had nothing to do with Gary Rummer’s death.


Similarly, Causey says he will make no changes whatsoever after heavily armed deputies were sent at night to the home of an 18-year-old student suspected of assaulting and robbing another student of a video game. The deputies used a battering ram when the student didn’t open up, and one deputy shot him to death through the closed door. The shooter said he thought the sound of the battering ram was a shot.

In this case, Causey did act quickly. He fired the deputy who fired the shot. Apparently that’s all he intends to do.

The message is that the death of Peyton Strickland was entirely the fault of one deputy. The message is that no fault attaches to Causey or his top subordinates, who oversee the training, deployment and procedures of a team of deputies armed as if for war.

It’s nice to see at least one media outlet hold him accountable. Now, if only the voters would.

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