Police chief defends work habits

Saturday, August 8, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT WRIGHT -- Suspended Police Chief Mark Brown defended the way he has run the Fort Wright Police Department during his three-year tenure.

Chief Brown, who has been on leave since May 11, faces administrative charges of inefficiency, abusive or obscene language, immoral or improper conduct, and discourtesy to the public or employees. On Friday, testimony in the third day of Chief Brown's disciplinary hearing focused on the chief's handling of personnel matters and his alleged poor people skills.

In his charges, City Administrator Marc Bergman said the chief failed to adequately monitor written documentation on the field training of former Officer Julie Walker.

Ms. Walker, who quit the force on May 11, has federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints on sexual harassment and sexual discrimination pending against the city.

Chief Brown testified that he relied on his field training officers to report any problems to him. However, he said he did not learn of any training officers' concerns about Officer Walker's progress until about March 20, when he saw Officer Walker scheduled to ride by herself, and asked about her progress.

The chief said that as soon as he learned an officer had concerns about Ms. Walker's field training, he asked Sgt. Robert Ford, the field training officer supervisor, and Field Training Officer Dean Russell to document any deficiencies in writing, and to meet with Officer Walker to explain how she could overcome those problems. Chief Brown and Officer Randy Newsom also denied under oath that they had discussed Ms. Walker's case against the city, despite an order from Mr. Bergman not to do so.

Chief Brown testified that he sometimes raises his voice with subordinates, but he added he was never out of control, and has never been reprimanded for his language during his 30 years in police work.

Jeffrey Butler, a retired Kenton County police chief and former Cincinnati assistant police chief, testified Friday that it's not unusual for police to use rough or profane language with other officers.

"In every department I've ever worked in, every department I've ever had experience with, rough and profane language is commonplace," Mr. Butler said. "The police culture is one that deals in assertive language by the nature of the occupation."

Mayor Paul Hiltz is expected to take a couple of days to decide whether to act on Mr. Bergman's recommendation to fire the police chief.

Chief Brown has asked to be reinstated with back pay.

"The police culture is one that deals in assertive language by the nature of the occupation.' -- Jeffrey Butler, retired Kenton County police chief

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