Mooresville police employees are being assured – again – they will not face retaliation for cooperating with the ongoing investigation into the working environment at the police department.
Police employees received a memo today from Ryan Rase, named acting town manager on March 1.
“Again, please be assured that any employee who speaks truthfully with (the investigator) will suffer no retribution or retaliation for coming forward and speaking with him,” Rase wrote.
His memo follows by about a month a similarly worded memo to police from Town Manager David Treme, currently on medical leave. “It is important that every employee of the department, both sworn and civilian, feels free to bring forward any concerns or issues he or she might have that relates to the working environment within the department,” Treme wrote. “Please be assured that any employee who speaks truthfully with (investigators) will suffer no retribution or retaliation for coming forward.”
Participants in the investigation – those being investigated and interviewed – are allowed to read un-redacted copies of the final investigative reports. That means command staff will eventually have access to potentially critical statements made about them by their subordinates.
The town has not placed any members of MPD, including Chief Damon Williams, on administrative leave during the investigation. Town officials, including Treme, have not responded when asked if the chief’s presence at the police department may intimidate officers or cause them to fear retaliation for cooperating with the investigation.
In the first hint of a timeline for the investigation, Rase told police employees today they have until April 1 to contact David Graham of U.S. ISS Agency in Huntersville, who is leading the probe, to schedule a meeting.
Town Finance Director Deborah Hockett didn’t reply by the end of business today to an email requesting the estimated cost of the current investigation and/or how much the town has paid already.
The town board called for the investigation last month in response to complaints filed within MPD, including a claim from a high-ranking MPD official that the department is a hostile work environment.
That employee’s claim came after Chief Williams called late last year for an internal-affairs probe, which led to a broader investigation into the police department’s narcotics unit. Graham also led that investigation.
On Oct. 1, Williams placed three members of the narcotics unit on paid administrative leave pending results of the investigations. Two were brought back on Oct. 17 but were required to continue on administrative duty.
The third, who is command of the unit and was a frontrunner to be chief before that position was offered to Williams in 2016, remained on paid leave until all three members of the unit were reinstated to their positions on Dec. 12.
In addition to paying the salaries of the detectives while they were on leave and/or restricted duty, taxpayers footed a $20,000 bill for the probe into the narcotics unit. It resulted in a suggestion for policy review.
The final reports of the investigations are not considered public record and, therefore, are not available for public review.