Elizabeth Silver: Time to move on from Police Dept. incident

Friday, December 27, 2013
To the editor:

Scott Savino gave more than 25 years of dedicated service to Northampton. He made a mistake. Many of us make mistakes, sometimes very big ones. But we can be too quick to judge and look for harshness. I’m not sure why this happens — perhaps it makes us feel more superior in some way. I leave that analysis to psychologists. But before we offer up law-and-order knee-jerk reactions, let’s consider the fact that he has lost his job and will suffer his shame publicly.

I am reminded of the Louise Woodward (shaken baby) case. In his resolution, Judge Hiller Zobel reduced the charges to manslaughter and the penalty to time served. Words in his decision resonated then as they do now. He said, “Mercy does not lessen opprobrium.” In a summary of the Zobel decision, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: “The discretion [Zobel] was able to exercise by reducing the charge is the other, more human face to a legal system awash in shortsighted, tough-on-crime mandatory sentences. That’s worth celebrating.”

We have a reasonable solution in which the city has been made whole. The incident has provided us with a learning experience we can put to good use. Let us move on.

Elizabeth Silver