By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – The investigation of a female police officer allegedly harassed by a male officer is nearing a close, yet many residents are questioning why the Police Department is investigating the alleged incident rather than an outside source – and why wasn’t the city council aware.
“The investigation is being done per policy,” City Attorney Joseph Couvreur said Thursday, noting that city council isn’t made aware of everything – it wasn’t something they had to vote on.
“If this was criminal, that would be the case,” he said, adding it would go to the Michigan State Police for internal investigation.
“This was a very thorough investigation,” Couvreur said of the query that is nearly finished. “It was pursuant to the city employee policy.”
The investigation of the alleged incident being investigated by the Police Department drew scrutiny from former City Councilwoman Marci DeGiulio during Tuesday’s regular meeting. She asked why the investigation wasn’t turned over to state police in lieu of an internal investigation, and then polled individual council members asking if they were aware of the issue.
Most city council members said they weren’t, but City Administrator Mark Kibby admitted he was.
“It’s a personnel matter and I can’t discuss it,” Kibby said, nearly begging DeGiulio to stop her questioning.
Councilman Angelo DeGiulio said he was aware, and the only person he told was Couvreur.
“There’s nothing going on that’s criminal in nature,” Couvreur piped in.
“This matter’s being (looked) into and we really need to respect the privacy rights of our employees,” Couvreur said at the council meeting.
He said it’s a matter for the city administrator to deal with, and not the council.
Marci DeGiulio inferred that an internal investigation being done by the same department that is accused causes bias.
“When something of this nature happens, the city attorney or the chief of police will call the Michigan State Police,” she said.
“Are you letting them police themselves?” she asked Convreur.
Couvreur said Thursday that the detective’s report is scrutinized for bias and factualness.
“The (detective’s) report is under scrutiny by the police chief and by our office,” Couvreur said. “If people involved want to question it, then they are able to scrutinize it. We were following employee policies.”
Former Councilman Dennis Hayes was concerned if council members were aware of a human resources situation and why there weren’t any closed sessions to discuss the matter. But Couvreur cited there was nothing to be voted on, and therefore no need to adjourn to closed session.
Hayes said he hoped the city wouldn’t let it go so far as other police department situations that have cost the city millions in litigation and settlement.
“This rumor is widely being communicated in the community,” Hayes wrote on the Allen Park Facebook page.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)