Police commit serious error of omission

A sexual predator is on the prowl in your downtown business district. He commits a sexual assault, then commits a similar assault several months later.

The public needs to know immediately about the first attack to be alert to the possibility that a second attack might occur.

One problem, though. The police department — whose officers from the chief of the police on down to the patrol officer take an oath to protect the public — fails to let anyone know about either attack in anything approaching a timely manner.

With a apologies to the actor Strother Martin of “Cool Hand Luke” fame: Talk about a failure to communicate.

The Amarillo Police Department has been revealed to have committed an error that is beyond mere embarrassment. It is a shameful lapse in fulfilling its duties to the public it has sworn to serve.

The police department knew of an attack that occurred on June 5. It didn’t alert anyone to its occurrence. Then an attack occurred on Sept. 27. Again, the cops kept it quiet — until Oct. 22, for crying out loud.

All the while, the police have a suspect in custody, a man they arrested later in the day of the second attack, on Sept. 27. The cops charged him with the June 5 attack and then the Sept. 27 incident.

And all this occurred without the public knowing about it until eight days ago, when the Amarillo Globe-News received a confidential tip.

Amarillo Police Chief Robert Taylor has acknowledged the mistake. He vows to repair the damage.

Meanwhile, Terrell Anthony Allen is being held in connection with the incidents. His fate, of course, remains uncertain.

The issue here, though, has much more to do with whether the police department is fulfilling its duty to the public. Clearly — and this cannot be overstated — it has failed badly.

There appears to have been some sort of communications breakdown within the department, with the APD public information office being unaware of the incidents’ nature. Taylor said had his public affairs known that a sex crime had occurred, “he would have made a news release, more than likely.”

More than likely? Do you think.

If ever the public needs to know matters in real time, it ought to be when incidents involving a violence against victims are occurring.

Get to the bottom of this egregious error, chief — and fix it.