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Let properly trained officers enforce laws in Martinsburg

October 15, 2004

It may seem like piling on to say this again, but Martinsburg City Councilman Frank Idoni needs to get the message that law enforcement must be left to police officers.

Elected officials who imagine they can do as well as trained police officers are as misguided as those who substitute home remedies for a doctor's prescriptions.

On Wednesday Idoni was charged in Berkeley County Magistrate Court with allegedly punching and spitting on a teenager who Idoni felt was driving too fast. The councilman was released on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond.

Idoni has already been cited in five formal complaints for his alleged practice of walking through the neighborhood where he lives at night, carrying a baseball bat and telling people sitting on their porches what to do.

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A petition to remove Idoni from the council has been circulated and was scheduled to be discussed in the council's executive sessionlast night.

We hope the council discusses the question of what the city's liability might be if Idoni is convicted on the battery charge and the alleged victim decides to sue.

The council also needs to decide how it will handle the situation if this sort of behavior is repeated.

As Mayor George Karos said, this sort of behavior is a "blemish on the city." The story not only appeared in Thursday's edition's of The Herald-Mail, it also went out over The Associated Press news wire. It is not the sort of publicity a growing city in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle needs or wants.

Elected officials do get frustrated by the difficulty of dealing with certain kinds of criminal behavior. Most are aware, however, that if evidence isn't handled properly and corroborating testimony isn't gathered from witnesses, those who are committing crimes are likely to walk free.

It's time for Frank Idoni to acknowledge that he was elected as a member of the city council and not Martinsburg's commissioner of police.

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