By way of disclosure, former Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell is a friend of mine. So when I express satisfaction that an indictment against Ferrell was dropped this week, please understand that I am not an impartial observer.
As I assume you have heard by now, stealing charges brought against the former Sheriff were dismissed this week by a special prosecutor appointed to hear the case. Ferrell and his attorney Jim Robison were scheduled to argue their motion to dismiss the charges when the special prosecutor informed them he was dropping the case.
When the smoke fully clears on this episode, there needs to be a discussion on the grand jury process and the unbridled power of some elected officials. The public needs to understand the process that drug Ferrell through the mud and how this could happen to virtually anyone.
Now is not the time to point fingers or place blame. But that time will come. Ferrell deserves an apology but we doubt seriously that will ever happen. Let it be said that there is no single person responsible for the smear campaign that Ferrell endured. But there is a "story behind the story" that involves what I see as an orchestrated attempt to harm the reputation of a long-standing public servant who deserved a great deal better.
A reputation is an interesting thing. Once harmed - rightfully or not - the damage is rarely undone. For those who have known Ferrell during his long career in law enforcement, his reputation remains intact. But for those who hang on the fringes, that reputation may forever suffer. And that is just plain wrong.
We hope the day comes when the full story of the Ferrell indictment is revealed. It would make for some interesting reading, that's for sure. But for now, we hope our entire county is relieved by the dismissal of this ugly episode. We remain as convinced today as we have ever been that Bill Ferrell did nothing but serve this county with dignity, professionalism and honesty. Apparently a special prosecutor with no ax to grind came to the same conclusion.
Those who lined up against our former Sheriff for whatever reason should look themselves in the mirror and reflect on their motives. We can only hope they find more character in this self-analysis than they did in trying to bring harm to a man who deserved much better.