Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon Owes Us An Explanation About Escapee

The public safety scare, created by the brazen escape of a shackled convict under the custody of the Wayne County Sheriff Deputies, ended when convicted rapist Willie B. Wright reappeared at the hospital 30 hours later. His eventual arrest is being characterized as a capture when, in my humble opinion, he essentially "turned himself in."

From a picture posted in the media today, Wright was clearly disheveled and it was publicly reported that he was still wearing remnants of the prison garb he wore when he escaped. Clearly, he knew he was wanted by the authorities and that his size - a reported height of 6'5" and his weight of 300 pounds - made him an easily identifiable subject. He gave himself up for a warm shower, a hot meal, and a place to lay his head.

Mr. Wright's escape and the ensuing manhunt that followed has many area residents curious as to how this event was made possible. Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon was publicly "missing in action" throughout this incident and did not make a statement until Wright was back in custody. Napoleon was quoted in today's Free Press as making the following statement:

"We wanted to get this man back into custody before he could harm anyone else and that's exactly what happened."

The first thing that Napoleon now needs to tell his constituents, who voted him into office, is why he was so quiet during this fiasco. The public got its meager information from public statements made by Undersheriff Daniel Pfannes.

No disrespect to Pfannes, but the voting public did not vote for him in the recent election. The citizens of Wayne County wanted to hear from Napoleon. The public had a right to know how Wright was allowed to escape, what was being done to apprehend him, and what changes will be made to prevent future escapes.

That info needed to be made by the man in charge, on an on-going basis, to let the public know that he was on top of the problem. He needed to reassure the public that Wright was going to be apprehended. Statements of those ilk require confidence and leadership.

This region has not witnessed such political cowardice since the maelstrom created by the shooting of Aiyanna Jones. In that case, the Chief of Police was out of town and Mayor Bing was in hiding. We were given our info from the "then" Assistant DPD Chief Ralph Godbee.

It is easy to be in charge at a senior citizen dinner or when there are babies to be kissed on the campaign trail. Being in charge, in my opinion, is being engaged with your constituents when bad things happen. Sheriff Napoleon owes us answers on not only how a convicted rapist escaped his department's custody, but he also needs to explain why he was publicly absent.

We deserve better.

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