Thursday, March 30, 2000

Drug strike force chief quits

Cleared of allegations

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The director of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force resigned Wednesday, even as investigators reported there was not a hostile work environment there, and his bosses described his work as excellent.

        Dan Steers and the board members issued a joint statement, which said it was best for him to leave the job to revolve “any perceived conflict” after allegations of sexu al harassment and hostile environment arose.

        The agency's board agreed to pay Mr. Steers $14,000 in accrued vacation and leave time.

        An investigation of the allegations by Boone and Campbell county police detectives “did not determine that a hostile work environment existed as alleged and/or that sexual harassment occurred as alleged,” the statement said.

        The board did not release any more details except to say the allegations were leveled by a former task force member. Sources confirmed that member was Sgt. Debbie Browning, who was recently transferred to do drug work at the airport.

        She is married to Kenton County Police Chief Mike Browning, who is among the three county chiefs who jointly oversee the drug unit's operation. Chief Browning did not take part in any of the meetings to discuss Mr. Steers' future. His assistant chief, Lt. Col. Ed Burk, sat in instead.

        Sgt. Browning could not be reached for comment at the airport Wednesday.

        Mr. Steers, 50, had been director about two years. He retired in 1998 from the Cincinnati Police Division after 30 years there, much of that time spent in narcotics investigation.

        Boone County Police Capt. Jeff Martin is leading the unit temporarily.


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