Release Details On Settlement

For months last year, a dark cloud hung over the head of former Bethesda Police Chief Eric Smith. He had been suspended by the village, then resigned. State officials were investigating an allegation he misused a law enforcement computer system.

Officials in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation have concluded their probe. Smith has documents from that agency and the state attorney general’s office stating the case has been closed and that no additional action is expected.

He also has a settlement with the village.

What, exactly, happened? Were claims against him a mistake, made in good faith, or a vendetta pursued by someone? What about the settlement? How much will it cost Bethesda taxpayers?

For his part, Smith has said he is “just basically relieved and glad that there was nothing they could charge me with, because I did no wrongdoing.”

“I’m relieved that it’s over and I can get back to my life that’s partially ruined by this … It was all blown out of proportion by a lot of people,” Smith added.

Regarding the settlement, Smith said revealing its details is “up to the village. I’ll let them release that information if they want.”

But Bethesda Mayor Martin Lucas has not commented on the settlement. The village’s Columbus attorney has not responded to attempts by the press to contact him.

Smith is right about one thing: “It’s the public’s right to know,” he said of the settlement provisions.

Indeed it is.

Such settlements often include confidentiality agreements. But Smith already has said he has no objection to the information being released by the village.

What happened is unsettling for multiple reasons. Bethesda residents have a right to know what happened, along with what financial and other provisions are made in the settlement agreement. Village officials should provide as much of that information as they have at their disposal.


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