Locked out of lockup: Moorhead chief, officers suspendedBy BY RECARDO THOMAS STAFF REPORTER,
Moorhead Police Chief Bobby Walker said he and four of his fellow officers, including Assistant Chief Sherry Myers, have been locked out of his office and the police department by the city manager and they want to know why.
In addition, Walker and Officer Patrick Mitchell have been suspended from duty.
Walker said he received a text message on Dec. 28, while he was on leave from the office, that he had been placed on investigative suspension, and subsequently the locks were changed to his office and to the police department.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, City Manager Percel Moore said the decision to change the locks was made by him and the city council.
A forwarded copy of the Dec. 28 text message that Walker says came from Moore reads: “Effective immediately, Chief Bobby Walker you are being placed on investigative suspension without pay. We request you return as soon as possible the following items and any items that's property of the City of Moorhead: Keys, Guns, Badges, Uniforms, Holsters and (Car). Failure to adhere to the following will result in further action being taken. Submitted, Percel Moore City Manager. A hard copy of this document is available for you at The City of Moorhead.”
Moore said Walker has been placed on suspension with pay, and Mitchell has been placed on suspension without pay, and asserts that Mitchell’s suspension was based on an isolated incident at the county jail involving the officer and an unnamed judge and that Walker was suspended with pay regarding a personnel matter that he would not discuss.
Moorhead Mayor George Holland told The E-T this week that he could not comment on specifics due to the personnel nature of the matter, but he did say that currently, the council is backing the city manager’s decision, and a closed-session will be held on the matter tonight.
Walker said the actions are in retaliation to sexual harassment complaints made by his officers against Moore in connection with an earlier incident where Moore allegedly confronted Mitchell regarding his association with a woman that he (Moore) is also allegedly acquainted with and allegedly showed the officer a sexually explicit video to prove it.
According to Walker, that officer and the others that were present at the time, which included, Myers and officer Mel Cannon filed a complaint against Moore because they were offended by the video.
Walker also said that Moore had come to him trying to get certain officers written up based on complaints from citizens, but he told Moore that he could not, and they were not legitimate complaints.
Walker maintains that the allegations levied against Moore sparked a Dec. 23 special call meeting, but the matter was not discussed because the city wanted to hire a labor attorney first, so it was rescheduled for Dec. 27.
However, that meeting was cancelled he said, because the attorney could not be present.
Walker stressed that actions should have been taken against Moore when the sexual harassment claims from his officers were made against him, but the city failed to do anything about it.
He also stated that as chief, he should only be suspended with the city council’s approval and that has not taken place.
Walker said with the subsequent lockout, it leaves him in a dilemma because as chief law enforcement officer for the city, he is responsible for all of the confiscated weapons, money and drugs, but he no longer has access to it and it should be totally off limits to the city manager who now has the keys.
Walker and his officers have hired Attorney Ashley N. Harris of Leland because he said they want their complaints to be heard by the council, they want to know the reason they were suspended and he wants his officers back at work.
Moore said the allegations against him are false and will be proven false and the city has hired an attorney so he could not offer up any additional information at this time other than to say the matter is being dealt with.