Four Missouri National Guard soldiers were involved in looting while on duty in Joplin after the tornado struck about a year ago. An investigating officer has recommended they be demoted, but records that were made public do not reveal what type of discipline they received.
The Guard said three specialists and a sergeant admitted taking items from debris at a Walmart store. The Guard said the soldiers thought the video game players, a camera and other items were going to be dumped with other debris. The combined value of the items taken was listed at $354. The items were returned after the looting became known to the Guard.
The Guard did not immediately provide the records, or memorandums, saying it is exempt from the Missouri Sunshine Law. After denying the records to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, they were given to The Joplin Globe.
This incident is an embarrassment to the Guard even though there was some confusion as to what was going to be done with the items taken. The items should have been turned in immediately to the Guard.
As to whether demotions are appropriate punishments, to some people it should be more harsh. The records of the soldiers are a consideration in determining the punishment, we assume. We trust the Guard is doing the right thing. It would be more credible had it been more open to the public about the incident. There is no excuse for the delay in providing the records.