BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Rumors of corruption and cover-ups within the Battle Creek Police Department were not on the agenda of Tuesday night’s Battle Creek City Commission meeting.
After the meeting, FOX 17 asked city leaders if there was anything they can do to affect the public perception and clear up some of the mystery surrounding claims of corruption.
The meeting was held just hours after Battle Creek police officer Jennifer Appl was charged in connection with driving to work drunk and carrying a police issued gun while intoxicated.
We asked Battle Creek Mayor Susan Baldwin if she was aware if the rumors were affecting the morale of the department.
Mayor Baldwin said, “I think any time you have questions about your work, whether you work for the city, Kellogg, or any company, it’s challenging when you have some folks that are not happy with what they are seeing you do.”
Chief Jackie Hampton admits he’s heard complaints from within the department.
The allegations of misconduct stem from a request by Commissioner David Walters and Commissioner Jeff Domencio to the Michigan State Police and the Attorney General’s office to look closely at the department.
Commissioner Andy Helmholdt said, “I haven’t seen any proof of corruption in our police department.”
It was the lack of concrete evidence that put an end to an FBI investigation of the department before it ever started, according to City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama.
“There’s nothing to investigate because there is nothing specifically identified,” he said. “That’s really the position we are in.”
City leaders admit talk of a corrupt police force is damaging to public perception.
According to commissioners, the rumors of corruption ramped up shortly after two off duty police officers were involved in a drunk driving crash this summer.
The passenger in the crash was officer Appl, the same officer charged Tuesday.
Last month, a police officer was investigated by MSP over claims that she was stealing from other officers and the acts were caught on video.
Commissioner Walters said, “I think there is a perception right now that the commission does not support the police force and I think that’s incorrect.”
At this point, without specifics to go on, the commission said corruption allegations are not currently investigated by anyone.
FOX 17 spoke with Commissioner Domenico, who claims to have proof of police misconduct within the department.
He told us he has nothing to say at this point, and he’s hoping to let the issue play out, assisting as he is needed.