Thursday, August 29, 2002

Lawrenceburg police chief demoted, replaced

By Karen Gutierrez,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Under fire for alleged wrongdoing, Lawrenceburg Police Chief John Agner has been demoted and replaced with a department veteran.

        Capt. Gene Hunefeld, a 24-year veteran of the force, was promoted to chief on Tuesday by Mayor Paul Tremain, who controls the day-to-day operations of the city of 4,500.

        “I'm just trying to get harmony back in the police department,” Mr. Tremain said. The former chief is innocent until proven guilty, he said, but because of internal turmoil, it was necessary to name someone else to lead the department.

        Chief Agner's administration has been under investigation by the Indiana State Police since March, when five officers came denounced various practices.

        In part, they alleged that Chief Agner and top-ranking officers earned extra money working for private companies while they were on the city payroll. They also complained of irregularities with purchasing practices, destruction of personnel records and the discontinuation of a time-card system for tracking officers' hours.

        Last week, the five officers sued the city, Mr. Tremain, Chief Agner and other officials in federal court, claiming the defendants retaliated against them after they blew the whistle.

        In an interview Wednesday, Chief Hunefeld said his priority as the new chief will be to make sure citizens are protected and all officers are treated equally.

        Ex-chief Agner could not be reached for comment Wednesday.


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