NEW FRANKLIN A recently conducted independent investigation of the New Franklin Police Department found no major violations, but did find a few areas for the department to improve.
The investigation came following allegations presented to City Council and the mayor in December 2017 from former New Franklin Police Officer Andrew Dilbeck. New Franklin Mayor Paul Adamson said in order for the city to conduce a fair unbiased review of the allegations, the city turned to Attorney J. Dean Carro.
The allegations presented by Dilbeck included claims of sexual harassment and unethical conduct. Dilbeck, who grew up in New Franklin before entering the Marine Corps out of high school, said he doesn't believe the Police Department is a professional work place. let alone a licensed department.
"I could have chosen to apply at any department, but I wanted to serve the community I grew up in," Dilbeck said. "I have been proud of my life and my decisions until I decided to become a part of this department because I would shortly learn how much of a joke this department is foreseen as. I went from being one of the few to the few of the laughing stock of the law enforcement community."
He said he is thankful he resigned in October 2017 and that he no longer is employed by the city.
"I am not going to live in a city where I feel harassed and more importantly I am not going to pack up and move," Dilbeck said in the email sent to the mayor and City Council. "I have freedom of speech just like anyone else does."
Dilbeck goes on to say he would be contacting legal counsel to protect himself and his family from the actions that may come from the department.
"The corruption starts at the chief and continues to the lieutenant, detective and patrol officers such as the school resource officer," Dilbeck said.
Adamson said prior to the investigation he wasn’t sure what would be found.
"We wanted to start with a blank slate," Adamson said. "We didn’t know what the results would be."
The two month investigation included interviews with 15 people, including Dilbeck.
Allegations regarding inappropriate use of city vehicles and the encouragement to patronize a uniform store once owned by a supervisory staff member were found to be unsupportable. While the investigation concluded no major violations occured it did cite some areas the department can improve.
The summary of the investigation read:
"The City of New Franklin Police Department is, on most bases, a well-run and professional organization. There is a close working relationship between the citizens of New Franklin and members of the police department. As a whole, police officers act professionally in most circumstances and provide the citizens with an admirable level of services performed respectfully. There are many examples of police officers within the department going above and beyond the call of duty to aid in the city citizens. Most police officers have served for many years and with high honor. But as noted above, there are areas of concerns which, from this investigator’s viewpoint, may be readily addressed and alleviated,"
Allegations as to favoritism in shift assignments and days off were supported. Although no specific examples of practice beyond policy were cited, the report suggested the appearance of some favoritism. Those opting for a certain shift is made by seniority. When it comes to days off, whoever applies first is granted the days off. There were a group of supervisors and officers who were taking days off for an off-site event. The investigation concluded that all of them taking off at the same time may have come across as favoritism to some. The report states the city should create a higher degree of transparency in how individuals are awarded days off and shifts are assigned.
The report also found that an inappropriate statement was made to a female officer by a supervisory officer at an off-site location while off-duty, but no offense was taken and prejudice resulted. The report said the person making the comment appeared to be intoxicated, but the person who the comment was directed toward took it in a joking matter.
The report found that a disparaging comment had been made about a dispatcher who complained about security, relative to a former officer who had been permitted access to the Police Department building. Although the security issue has been resolved, the review of the complaint process is in order.
The report investigated allegations of a lack of professionalism in the ranks, including joking of a sexual nature and harassment. The report found that a higher standard could be employed and training in this regard would be beneficial to the department.
Adamson said once the report was complete, he met with the police supervisory staff, with certain members of dispatch and the department as a whole. He said they reviewed issues relative to behavior and professionalism. He said they also discussed the higher standard to which police officers are held while on and off duty. Adamson said he will present training and implement a channel for complaints in those areas directly to the mayor.
Adamson said the city will be addressing the issues brought forward. He said the response to the investigation by the police department has been positive. He said no disciplinary action is warranted and none will be taken.
"I am confident that our police department is serving our community well and will be even stronger as a result of these proceedings," Adamson said.
Adamson said he is pleased with the results, but knows there are areas to improve. He said when it comes time to do some of the training he wouldn’t mind expanding to all city departments as a way to better the workplace.