Friday, January 11, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Sherwood acts on harassment

Sherwood Police Chief Jim Bedwell sent a clear message to his officers last week when he fired Lt. Josh Adams after receiving sexual-harassment complaints about him from a female police officer.

Bedwell said he will require that his staff take sexual-harassment prevention courses this month, which should help the city avoid costly and embarrassing lawsuits.

Bedwell became chief in 2009 after the police department settled a sexual-harassment lawsuit. He was promoted to the position soon after the city’s civil service commission found that Kel Nicholson, Bedwell’s predecessor, had unfairly fired a detective after she reported alleged sexual harassment from a fellow officer.

The woman detective was reinstated and given back pay and Nicholson was later reassigned to a lesser administrative position. There were other women who complained they had been treated unfairly because of their gender while he was in charge.

Nicholson is still a respected and well-liked member of the department. But Bedwell is trying to avoid the types of problems that Nicholson encountered.

He is also trying to protect the image of his department that deserves more attention for its professionalism and dedication to the community than for a handful of tawdry incidents.

So far Bedwell seems likely to succeed, and Mayor Virginia Hillman is confident he will. “We hope the message is loud and clear. I support the chief and his decision. The chief did exactly what he should have done,” she says in today’s paper.