Former Edwardsville Police Chief James S. Bedell's story is sad, but unfortunately all too familiar. He pleaded guilty last week to four counts of theft and embezzlement from the city. A lot of people have gotten caught stealing from their employer to support a gambling habit; it's particularly despicable that a police chief, sworn to uphold the law, would do it.
Also troubling is that Bedell got away with it for years. The federal charges say he stole $138,303 between 2009 and 2012 from impound and towing fees. At $300 a pop, that's 461 separate fees collected but unaccounted for. How does that go unnoticed for so long?
Mayor Gary Niebur said he was "disheartened and outraged" that a person in a position of public trust would do such a thing. But it's equally disheartening and outrageous that checks and balances weren't sufficient to catch the thievery.
Edwardsville clearly needs better accounting practices to ensure there is not a repeat in the future.