Thursday, April 20, 2000

Top cop won't quit; manager of city will

BY Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDEPENDENCE — This city's police chief — placed on an unexplained leave of absence two weeks ago — has told city officials he will not resign, and he has asked to be reinstated.

        Ed Porter, who has led the 22-officer force for more than four years, was placed on paid leave April 4 and replaced temporarily by Lt. Shawn Butler. Since then, attorneys for Chief Porter and the city have attempted to resolve the situation.

        Chief Porter, who said that he and other Independence city employees are under a months-old gag order not to discuss city business, referred all comment on the matter to his lawyer, Steve Wolnitzek.

        “There were discussions about him leaving, but he's determined that that is not what he wishes to do,” Mr. Wolnitzek said Wednesday. “I have faxed a short letter to the city attorney, saying that (Chief Porter) is not interested in voluntarily leaving, and have asked that he be taken off administra tive leave and returned to duty. The ball is in the city's court now.”

        Mayor Tom Kriege said the city “hasn't formulated a response” to Chief Porter's request, but will probably do so today.

        While lawyers for Chief Porter and the city have not explained why the police chief was placed on paid leave, he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

        Also Wednesday, Independence Administrator Gary Scott said that he, too, has been asked to resign by the mayor. Mr. Scott, who has served as city administrator since December 1997, said he will leave his city job May 31.

        “I was asked to leave by the mayor on March 29,” said Mr. Scott, who has retained a lawyer. “No reason was given.”

        “Gary and I sat down and talked about it, and I think he should know the reasons,” Mr. Kriege said. “I'm just doing what I feel is best for the entire city of Independence. It's nothing person al.”

        Mr. Scott came to Independence after 61/2 years of administrative experience in the cities of Villa Hills and Carrollton.

        “Regardless of what happened between Tom and I, I think he's doing good things for the city,” Mr. Scott said, referring to the mayor's efforts to get a new municipal center, revitalize the city's downtown, and recruit more businesses.

        Mr. Kriege took office in January 1999, after he won a six-way race for mayor in this city of about 15,000.

        Mr. Wolnitzek said that he and his client have an idea why the mayor sought Chief Porter's resignation, but he declined to elaborate.

        “I'm sure that there have been times when (the chief) and the mayor have not always seen eye to eye,” Mr. Wolnitzek said. “He's a very direct individual.”

        The chief, a veteran of the Cincinnati Police Division, came to Independence in November 1995. He went public soon after his hiring with complaints about working conditions in the former Madison Pike police headquarters. He complained of sagging floors, dripping pipes and compared the place to a “dirty, old, smoky pool hall.”

        In October 1997, when a former council was bickering, Chief Porter also let it be known that he had applied for another job.


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