girls ugg City reprimands police chief
TRAVERSE CITY An internal investigation cleared Traverse City police Chief Jeff O’Brien of policy violations but city officials still gave him a verbal reprimand for inappropriate conduct.
City officials met with O’Brien this week to discuss accusations that he violated a policy related to harassment, discrimination and workplace intimidation. Marty Colburn, city manager, warned O’Brien about his “tone and approach” but commended the “positive direction” of his department.
“Your intention was to motivate the employee (on Sept. 18) because the officer is a potential organizational leader,” Colburn wrote in his letter to O’Brien. “This was a training opportunity but was in the wrong setting. The perception of the conversation was construed as intimidating.”
Colburn did not return several calls for comment and previously declined to elaborate on the accusations against O’Brien. A Freedom of Information Act request filed with his office last week was denied Friday in an effort not to deter other employees from filing similar complaints.
“If internal investigation reports were released, employees may no longer feel comfortable raising issues of concern to management,” wrote City Clerk Benjamin Marentette, who also failed to return multiple calls for comment before he left the office Friday.
A letter sent last month from Human Resource Director Kristine Bosley briefly outlined how her office received complaints O’Brien violated city policies designed to curb workplace violence. Bosley on Monday said an investigation that began weeks ago is complete but declined to release the results.
Bosley’s letter suggested O’Brien was accused of violating Traverse City Personnel Policy No. 210P.
The guidelines enacted in 2014 specifically prohibit physical attacks, threatening remarks,
intentional damage to city property and aggressive or sexually harassing behavior.
It’s still not clear in what way O’Brien was accused of running afoul of the policy. O’Brien previously declined to discuss the accusations but said his employment with the department has remained unaffected. He did not return a call for comment Friday.
“Change is just really hard for some people,” O’Brien said previously.
Colburn’s letter suggests O’Brien was accused of creating a hostile work environment from “comments” made in December 2013 and in May, August and September of this year. Colburn said some of those remarks were “taken out of context” and didn’t violate city policies.
State law requires city officials separate exempt and non exempt information when responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, according to the statute. Marentette, instead, refused to provide any investigative materials that outlined the accusations against O’Brien.
City commissioner Tim Werner said confidentiality might be necessary when it comes to personnel matters. Mayor Jim Carruthers, without familiarity of the situation, declined to comment except to note he stands by O’Brien and believes he’s a valuable city employee.
Commissioner elect Brian McGillivary said he also knew very little about the situation. He believes the city should release as much information as it can, and experienced instances where the city wasn’t as transparent as it should have been.
“I think there’s value for all parties involved for transparency,
” he said. “I don’t know the particulars of this case. . I would have to assume the city’s rationale for not releasing the information is valid.”