To the editor:
In regard to story on requiring identification and making public record the name of a person alleging a complaint of county zoning requirements (“Anonymous complaints vetoed,” May 26, A1), this is actually very poor policy.
If there is a complaint regarding something that is a violation of county code requirements, it doesn’t matter who is reporting it. It doesn’t matter if they used a fake name. Investigate the complaint in an unbiased manner and determine if a violation exists. Close the complaint if there is no issue or take appropriate action.
Requiring persons to make their name part of a public record for raising an issue to the county zoning office is potentially putting that individual in danger depending on the response of target of the complaint. It is like the police making a public record the name of a person who reported a crime. Really no difference.
I have worked as an investigator for both the health department and Indiana OSHA and would never divulge the name of the person making a complaint. It is not relevant to what your responsibility is as an investigator. You are investigating if a condition exists that violates a law. That is it.
The county zoning office should investigate complaints expediently and take action where needed. That is your job. If you are getting complaints that you don’t believe are valid, close them with as much investigation as you believe is required.
If you are getting complaints about actual zoning violations, which is what were represented in each of these examples, then enforce the current code requirements or change the code requirements if you do not believe they are valid or needed.
By basing your enforcement policy on who complained rather than on the merit of the situation, you are operating unethically and exposing the county to great legal liability.
Take the complaint, investigate the issue and take appropriate action. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.