Wednesday, June 11, 2008

He crossed the line

I deliberately waited a couple of days to ponder the situation of Washington County Sheriff Sam Romano, who was arrested for drunken driving last week in West Virginia. My initial, gut reaction was that Romano should step down. After two days of consideration, I still think he should resign. Romano's case attracted a wide range of comments on the O-R Web site's poll Tuesday. There seemed to be a fairly even split of those who think Romano should be given a free pass this time and those who think he should resign. The main defense of Romano is that everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance. Yes, everyone does make mistakes. I was arrested for DUI a couple of years after I got out of high school. I made a lot of mistakes when I was young, but most people, as the years go by, develop a sense of personal responsibility and maturity. Sheriff Romano is in his 40s, at an age when those attributes should have kicked in. The sheriff was traveling with his fiancee, in her car. Why didn't he let her drive? Why didn't he stay where he was until he sobered up? Why didn't he drink a little less? One of the sheriff's comments about the incident undercuts his credibility. "I made a poor error in judgment by having a few beers while sightseeing," said Romano. Error in judgment!?!? There was no error in judgment. He knew he was drunk and drove anyway. That's a deliberate act that could have resulted in the deaths of the sheriff, his fiancee and innocent people traveling the roads with him. A few beers!?!? After reportedly failing field sobriety tests, the sheriff blew a 0.23 on the Intoximeter. That kind of reading doesn't indicate having "a few beers," unless you're a scrawny Barney Fife type who downs a six-pack in 15 minutes. That's @#$#-faced drunk, nearly three times the legal limit. The sheriff also was charged with crossing the center line on the road he was traveling. If that's accurate, the threat to others is clear. By virtue of his actions, Sheriff Romano no longer has the moral authority to lead his department and serve as one of the chief law enforcement officials in Washington County. As a law enforcement officer, he is, correctly, held to a higher standard than the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker when it comes to acting in a lawful manner in his personal life. He has failed himself. He has failed the people he was elected to serve. He should go.



Blogger Ellipses said...

But he is such a nice guy...


June 11, 2008 at 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the o-r written an editorial criticizing the sheriff?

June 12, 2008 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

That's a legitimate question, but since that's not my area of responsibility at the paper, I really don't have a good answer for you. I definitely think it's a worthy subject for the paper to weigh in on editorially.

June 12, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All law enforcement officers, including the Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies, take an oath to uphold and support the Constitution and laws of the United States of America and the Constitution and laws of the state/county of their jurisdiction — not to support and enforce some laws. Sheriff Romano is not doing his job and fulfilling the oath that he swore to. Romano has done a great disservice by disregarding the oath that he took and to ignore upholding the law.

Kick the bum to the curb!

June 12, 2008 at 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 12, 2008 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

An explanation. I had to remove the last comment because it made an unsupported allegation against the sheriff. While I welcome comments about the sheriff's current legal troubles and your opinions on what should be done, we cannot make accusations based on rumor or innuendo. Thanks. Brant

June 12, 2008 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Most of the time, I say to throw the book at these public officials. I must be getting soft in my old age because my original thought was to cut the guy a break. But then I read the blood/alcohol readings. That's not a mistake. He seems to have made a concerted effort to get drunk. No one gets that drunk by accident. There were all sorts of things he could have done to avoid this happening, but he chose to do none of them. Therefore, he should be removed from office and given the same sentence that I or anyone else would get if they were arrested and blew the same readings. "Do as I say, not as I do" is NOT good leadership from elected officials.

June 13, 2008 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

No question that the Sheriff needs to step down from his post. His actions were not merely a "mistake" (a word that has now been used to coin any wrongdoing), but demonstrated his inability to make good judgments. As pointed out, the 0.23 was not just a tad bit over the limit, it is waaaaay over. He knew what he was doing was wrong.

I know, the incident happened "off the clock," even in another area. But, one's patterns don't change much from place to place, time to time. His character has been exposed, and has shown himself not to be worthy of holding a law enforcement position.

June 13, 2008 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

The topic of drunken driving was the subject of an editorial of another newspaper, covering a town in the western part of the US. I regularly read and comment on their board. Rather than repeat, I share what I wrote on their response board.

P.S. Sorry if it is consider crass to use my material posted to another newspaper. But, the message is just as relevant here. As most of you know, I have posted my thoughts on this topic previously, so there isn't much new.

" I have commented on the topic over and over again in these kinds of forums.

Apparently, the US has a "tolerance" level for drunken driving, 17,000 deaths per year, 40,000 injuries, from drunken drivers. Maybe if the numbers were 50,000 and 100,000, something would be done. I don't know what the tolerance level is, but 17,000 deaths per year isn't enough to raise the sensitivity enough for real action. To be sure, some groups attempt action, but are in the minority.

The problem is those in authority do not want to touch the topic because it hits too close to home. Many public officials are caught on DUI, and others don't want to get caught. I believe the statistic is that the average number of times a DUI arrest is made, that person has already driven DUI 78 times. In other words, it is a pattern, but rarely caught.

Right now, the public is incensed about bad tomatoes. About 150 people have been sickened by the bad food product. Not to minimize their illness, but nobody has died. Yet the topic is widely discussed, with the caveat "we have got to do something." Even Congress is holding hearings about the death of two race horses, and the poor performance of Big Brown last weekend. But, the thousands of people killed by DUI incidents gets no attention.

DUI boils down at the bottom line, selfishness. "I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, how I want to do, where I want to do it, ...." The key word is "I." Driving while drunk is only about self, with no regard for other's lives, or property damage.

The question is always what to do? My suggestion: First offense, impound the vehicle for three months; second offense, impound the vehicle for six months; third offense, impound the vehicle for a year. Please, ... no lines about the hardship placed on the person getting to work, driving the family around to meet their needs, etc. Remember, driving a vehicle on public roads is a privilege. Driving while drunk is an abuse of that privilege. If somebody chooses to abuse the privilege, then they need to be prepared to give up their privilege for awhile. Others around that selfish person would take some account of making him/her responsible by not driving while drunk. It would also make the owner who chooses to let an offender use their vehicle think about the person driving. I would much rather build impound yards than prisons. "

June 13, 2008 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

How right you are. I speak as someone who, as a teenager and young 20-something drove drunk with regularity. Perhaps if the laws had been tougher (the immediate loss of a vehicle), I would have made other arrangements (drank at home, designated driver, drank less, etc.). But in those days, the punishment for a DUI, at least a first offense, was basically a slap on the wrist. Hence, I drove drunk with impunity. Fortunately, I grew up and gained insight and responsibility, which is clearly not the course some people travel as they get older.
I actually feel sorry for people who get a DUI with a .08 or .09. Many of these people didn't intend to drive drunk. They probably thought they were fine after a couple of post-work or with-dinner beverages and didn't realize they were over the limit. But when you blow a .23, you knew damn well you shouldn't have been behind the wheel. It was a CONSCIOUS DECISION to drive drunk, defy the law and put other people at risk of injury or even death. There's no excuse for something like that, and I would be in favor of significant prison terms for anyone who drives with a BAC of more than twice the .08 limit. Some people will drink and drive no matter what the penalties. They're sociopaths and low-life scum. But tougher penalties just might make the generally law-abiding, moral person take a second look at their actions and make all of us safer.

June 13, 2008 at 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He let a lot of people down including his family and his community, especially the people that voted him in to office.

I find it to be blatent
Hypocrisy. It is totally ridiculous that Romano blatantly and willfully violated the law, setting a very poor example, and losing whatever moral authority he may have had as a leader.

Romano should use better judgement and step down.

June 15, 2008 at 12:16 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

I am totally mystified by how people can dismiss the Sheriff’s DUI as a “mistake”. Misspelling a word is a mistake…driving with a Blood Alcohol Level nearly times the legal limit is a CRIME. Would people be so quick to dismiss this mistake if someone had been hurt? If someone has a “mistake” committed against them personally, would they be so quick to forgive and forget? This could easily have been a tragedy, but fortunately someone contacted the local law enforcement in West Virginia because the Sheriff’s driving was so erratic, and he was apprehended before he had a chance to harm someone. Mr. Romano is just another in a line of Sheriffs who have brought disgrace to themselves and our county. One is, I believe, currently serving a prison term for gambling, and another committed suicide on the day he was to be sentenced for job selling. The tradition lives on.

June 16, 2008 at 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Weekly Recorder is painful to read sometimes (hell..most of the time), but the article on his arrest was quite interesting.

He is quoted in the article as "being coherent as I am now" during the interview and "I have no holes in my hands, I am not Jesus Christ”.


June 16, 2008 at 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether he steps down or not is not the issue.

The issue is....... politically he needs a fork put in him. HE'S D-O-N-E!

June 16, 2008 at 10:16 PM  

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