The Springfield police union is crying foul over the way the city handled the discovery that police interview rooms have been under constant electronic surveillance. The union says that recordings contributed to a no-confidence vote in Chief Kenny Winslow taken one day after union attorney Ron Stone sent a letter to the chief raising concerns, including the possibility that 24/7 recording might have violated eavesdropping laws as well as workplace rules. The union also complains that it received no advance notice before Roger Holmes, the city’s inspector general, released a report finding no wrongdoing by city officials and placing blame for problems on the vendor that supplied the recording equipment. In a press release, the union notes that Holmes was the city’s choice to sit on an arbitration panel that recently rejected Mayor Jim Langfelder’s push to require that police officers live within city limits. Holmes authored a lengthy dissent, asserting that the decision was contrary “to the best interest and welfare of the public.” The inspector general should be independent of the city. Just ask Holmes, a retired Sangamon County Circuit Court judge. “As a trial court judge, my role is to have a neutral approach to every case,” Holmes told the State Journal-Register last January, when he got the job as inspector general. “Confidentiality and autonomy are the two key words to the position.” Here’s hoping that the inspector general will be just that, and only that, instead of a Swiss Army knife pulled out whenever the mayor needs a tool. Whomever fills the role shouldn’t be used for any purpose other than to ferret out malfeasance or corruption.

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