Quick Takes editorial: Officials’ alleged misconduct brought to light by honest peers

We expect a lot from our public servants, and most of them go about their work with quiet dedication, dignity and professionalism worthy of our esteem. There were a couple of glaring exceptions in the headlines last week.

In one case, former Edinburgh EMT Jeramy Goodnight was charged with one count of official misconduct as a level 6 felony and one count of battery as a misdemeanor linked to his alleged battery of a belligerent patient in an ambulance.

In another, former Johnson County jail employee Zachariah B. Johnson of North Vernon faces three counts of sexual misconduct, a Level 5 felony, official misconduct, a Level 6 felony, and trafficking with an inmate, a misdemeanor. He’s accused having sex with inmates.

They are innocent until proven guilty, and they will have their day in court. But rather than rehash the particulars of the troubling allegations, we’d rather note that in both of these cases, their peers spoke up to the proper authorities when they became aware of possibly illegal behavior. Investigations followed, as did criminal charges.

That’s another expectation we have for public servants: When they see behavior from peers and colleagues that cross criminal lines, they must feel a duty to report it without fear. Likewise, their supervisors must feel duty-bound to take appropriate action. That happened in these cases.

Former Columbus man’s Jan. 6 ties deepen

US Capitol rioter Jon Schaffer, who formerly was best known as a member of the heavy metal band Iced Earth, appears to be singing to federal prosecutors. Last week, a judge in Washington, D.C., granted prosecutors access to sealed evidence in Schaffer’s case to use in upcoming seditious conspiracy trials against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and 10 other alleged co-conspirators who are members of the far-right militia.

Schaffer, formerly of Columbus, pleaded guilty in April to breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, armed with bear repellent. He also pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and entering and remaining in a restricted building with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

Schaffer acknowledged in his plea he is “a founding, lifetime member of the Oath Keepers” and believes that “the federal government has been ‘co-opted’ by a cabal of elites actively trying to strip American citizens of their rights.” He previously agreed to cooperate with investigators in hopes of getting a lighter sentence, and the Justice Department has promised to consider putting him in the witness security program, suggesting it saw him as a valuable cooperator, The Associated Press reported.

We don’t know what’s in the sealed evidence in Schaffer’s case. Prosecutors do, though, and they see it as highly relevant to proving charges of seditious conspiracy against the United States government, the most serious charges filed to date.

Day of service good way to honor King’s legacy

Around Columbus on Monday, volunteers were helping in any number of ways, providing small but meaningful gifts of kindness in a day of service on the state and national holiday that honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Many companies and organizations encourage employees to use the day to serve community organizations in some way, and The Republic’s Brian Blair caught up with some of them who were, for instance, pitching in to tidy up at Love Chapel food pantry or helping the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund prepare for an expansion of its storage facilities.

“I know that Martin Luther King helped the world. So I would like to help in my own little corner of the world,” Stephanie Gorham said as she shampooed the carpet at Love Chapel’s storage area.

Community service — helping — is a fitting way to mark MLK Day. Salute to those who participated.