Bradenton OK independent investigation into police chief, department

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) – The Bradenton City Council has approved authorization for an independent investigation into city police chief Melanie Bevan and her top commanders following allegations of misconduct by at least four current and former officers.

In a 4-1 vote, council approved Mayor Gene Brown’s plan to have North Port Police Captain Brian Gregory and retired Hillsborough County Judge Greg P. Holder lead the investigation. .

The union representing rank and file police department officers has been calling for an independent investigation for months, after an inquiry in March painted a picture of internal division, mistrust and disenchantment.

In August, the union announced it had filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the state Public Employee Relations Commission on behalf of former officer Hannah Kalchbrenner, who said she was harassed by Department internal affairs investigators after reporting seeing Bevan conduct a search. a house in July without a warrant.

The union then released sworn affidavits from three other officers, including a senior lieutenant and a veteran sergeant, accusing Bevan and other senior officers of suggesting detectives harass a suspect in order to solve a 20-year-old cold case. year.

Bevan is also accused of conspiring to steal a personal cell phone to cover up an affair between a senior officer and a married dispatcher who killed herself after the affair came to light.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, Ward 4 Councilman Bill Sanders, a vocal critic of the police department, was unhappy with the choice of investigators. Captain Brian Gregory leads the Internal Affairs Department within the North Port Police Department.

“Local politics (has) turned out not to do it right,” Sanders said. “Now you have a neighbor police chief who is friends with our police chief. It’s suspicious,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t you let a government agency that oversees law enforcement like the FBI or the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement)… I was told they would be happy to look into this and keep it out of the reach of people in nearby towns,” he said.

Councilman Patrick Roff, who represents Ward 3, also said the FDLE would have been his first choice. “Can we ask FDLE first? To see if they would be willing to take it? He asked. “I would be okay with that if we asked FDLE first.”

However, Ward 1 Councilwoman Jayne Kocher refused to change her motion to allow the FDLE to investigate.

The motion to pass Gregory and Holder 4-1, with Sanders dissenting.

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