Columbia County deputies are excellent law enforcement officers. But they are rotten parliamentarians.
After reports that the Appling crowd at the second consolidation meeting got a little rowdy, three Columbia County deputies were sent to keep an eye on the standing-room-only gathering Tuesday in Evans.
Good idea. No one wants violence to derail a useful debate.
But the very nature of debate is that arguments are expected. Keeping the discussion civil is the duty of the moderator; deputies shouldn't step in unless someone becomes physically threatening.
Unfortunately, at least twice Tuesday, one of the deputies overstepped his bounds by taking hold of an overly talkative member of the audience just to enforce decorum. Carl Miller, a visible, vocal opponent of consolidation, understandably said he felt intimidated by being asked to accompany the deputy outside simply because he spoke out of turn.
Emotions run high at such public gatherings; it's expected. Even so, County Administrator Steve Szablewski did an excellent job running Tuesday's meeting. He didn't need the heavy hand - literally - of the law to help keep order.
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