Saturday, August 24, 2002

5 Ind. cops say city retaliated

By Karen Gutierrez,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Five Lawrenceburg, Ind., police officers on Friday sued city officials in federal court for allegedly retaliating against them after they went public with corruption allegations.

        The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal problems for the Indiana river city, which collects millions in casino tax revenue each year but has been plagued by infighting among officials.

        The mayor and city council are in court-ordered mediation to settle differences. And the Indiana State Police are investigating alleged wrongdoing within the 16-member police department.

        Friday's lawsuit was filed by officers Doug Taylor, Tom Cochran, William Hoffman, Mike Lanning and Brian Miller in U.S. District Court in New Albany, Ind.

        On March 17, the five men signed a letter alleging irregularities and improprieties committed by the department's top brass. The letter was read aloud at a council meeting and sent to the FBI, Indiana State Police and other agencies.

        Since then, the officers have been subjected to demotions, harassment and hostile work environments, their lawsuit states.

        Anthony Abbott , who served on the Board of Public Affairs, on Friday denied the officers were harassed or demoted for speaking out. The mayor recently demoted virtually everyone in the department — not just the whistleblowers — because he felt there were too many sergeants and lieutenants, Mr. Abbot said.

        “We're not supposed to talk about it until the investigation is over,” Mr. Abbott said.

        John Agner, the police chief, declined comment on Friday. The mayor and John Johnson, the assistant chief, did not return phone calls.


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