Virginia Beach Needs To Come Clean: Part 2.
I’m beginning to see a pattern here.
Not a good one.
Instead of holding regular press conferences and quickly responding to media inquiries, the communications experts for the City of Virginia Beach are issuing Thursday afternoon missives about the May 31 mass shooting.
They did it last week. They did it again yesterday.
It’s an odd way to communicate. Then again, it ensures that no awkward questions are asked.
Buried deep in this week’s mind-numbing update on the investigation, which contained an accounting of hours - thousands - spent on the investigation, the number of interviews - 300 - conducted so far and the amount of data being examined - 69 gigabytes - was one piece of critical information.
The FBI may need a year to complete its investigation.
That should be a comfort to the grieving families who politely asked the city to launch an independent investigation into the shooting spree. City Manager Dave Hansen balked at the notion of outsiders looking into the tragedy, saying that only after the criminal report was finished would officials be able to determine if there was a need for more digging.
Both probes could proceed simultaneously.
The first family to ask for an external inquiry was Katherine Nixon’s. When the Nixon family attorney, Kevin Martingayle, was informed about the FBI’s one-year timeline he expressed exasperation:
“I haven't heard any explanation for why a criminal investigation must be completed before a broader independent investigation can be started,” Martingayle told me. “Both can proceed at the same time, just like in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy.
“Procrastinating is disrespectful to the families of the victims, worried city employees and everyone else. As the old saying goes, lead or get out of the way. “
Other families have now joined the Nixons in asking for an external probe into what happened.
Denise Smallwood, twin sister of Joshua Hardy, an engineering tech for the city who was shot 10 times, says the lack of information amplifies her grief. She told WTKR that “not a single city official” had yet paid the family a visit.
"The city isn't saying anything. It's like we are doing our own investigation, and we shouldn't be doing that," Ms. Smallwood told WTKR, adding that she wants to see Craddock’s personnel file.
Grieving families shouldn’t have to play detective to figure out why their loved one died. It’s not right.
No doubt some at City Hall will see a lengthy FBI investigation as a welcome way to delay an independent analysis until well into 2020.
If the city manager is out of touch with the people, City Council shouldn’t be. They should respond to a growing demand for an independent probe. Someone should remind them that the city manager works for them. Not the other way around.
Right now the city is flooded with rumors. If officials want to limit wild speculation about what was going on with this shooter, they need to do two things: Authorize an independent investigation and begin releasing information.
For a start, authorities could remove the redactions from DeWayne Craddock’s weird resignation email that was released a few days after the tragedy. And when they do, someone should explain why the time stamp on that email was blacked out.
The city could also release the shooter’s personnel files, along with a complete record of Craddock’s job history with the city. Any positions he applied for and was granted or denied, for instance, during his 15 years.
Dribbling information in dull weekly emails full of filler is no substitute for press conferences and transparency.