Forgive us if we do not. Neither should the public.
Perhaps the deputy, who isn't even named by the Sheriff's Department, was simply fired this past May for being a jerk to his superiors. Maybe it was something far more nefarious. We might never know.
Why? Because the sheriff has denied a Freedom of Information Act request and an appeal seeking access to the officer's personnel file. The department has also been mum on the reason for the firing.
This failure to disclose what we contend are public records about a publicly paid employee is a source of great concern. The secretive nature of the dismissal makes us wonder what the department is hiding, and why.
When the undersheriff was asked about concerns of a cover-up, he only said, "I'm not going to respond."
The sheriff himself in the written denial of the Freedom of Information Act appeal states that he is "unable to identify any public interest in disclosure of any such records." He underlined the word "any."
A pair of experts on public records explained why this is of interest to the public.
"Full information and robust debate is vital to the democratic process, and is of particular concern for the public in the context of sheriff's departments, given that sheriffs are democratically elected officials accountable to the community they serve," wrote attorney Joseph Richotte in his lengthy appeal to Rosema that cited much case law to that effect.
"We're entitled to know why they are hired and why they are fired," added Freedom of Information Act expert David Cullier. "That's one thing we don't need in America, is secret police."
We agree wholeheartedly.
The public has a right to know. The public does have an interest. Underline the word "does."
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier, Nick White and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to email@example.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.