By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Michigan State Police launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and assault between a police officer and sergeant last week.
MSP launched its investigation after police officer Tracie Brown, a 15-year department veteran, asked them to. The incident was first investigated internally by a lieutenant.
Brown’s attorney, Salvatore Prescott, sent a letter April 6 to the City Council, police union representative and police chief “to request assistance in correcting the failure of the Allen Park Police Department to take appropriate action.”
Brown said the assaulting sergeant, who she briefly had a flirtation with, unzipped his pants and forced her head down to his groin area. On Nov. 13, Brown said the sergeant tried to choke her. She said that when she went to her lieutenant to ask if her neck was discolored, the suspected officer was standing nearby and reportedly asked if she thought the lieutenant would take her word over his.
Brown also alleged the lieutenant who investigated her case told her years prior that she was “paranoid” about her gender-expressed concerns. The same lieutenant allegedly made sexually inappropriate comments, such as asking her if she “liked to masturbate while writing up charges involving constituents.”
Brown alleged that on another occasion, the commander commented that a child victim of criminal sexual assault looked “horny” to him.
On Jan. 26, city officials drew scrutiny from people who knew about the incident and wanted to know why it was being investigated internally. City Attorney Joseph Couvreur said that was department policy. He said if the incident were criminal, it would have been forwarded to MSP for investigation.
Despite it being internal, Couvreur said it was a thorough investigation. He said the report is scrutinized for bias and factualness.
Couvreur declined to comment on the allegations or MSP investigation, because he doesn’t want to influence the investigation.
Former Councilman Dennis Hayes said on Jan. 26, when the incident first gained attention, 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.
In addition, City Administrator Mark Kibby reportedly said Brown signed off on the report, but Brown said she did not. Brown said she didn’t know the outcome of the internal investigation.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at email@example.com.)