Investigation To See If ‘Personal Relationship’ Creates Hostile Environment at BCPD

Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-08 10:29:20-05

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (March 7, 2014) – An investigation is underway that currently leaves the Battle Creek Police Department without two of its top officers.

Another setback for a department that has endured claims of corruption, officer misconduct, and cover-ups in the years past.

This investigation stems from allegations of a personal relationship between Deputy Chief of Police Jim Saylor, and the person in charge of internal affairs,  Police Inspector Maria Alonso.

Battle Creek’s interim City Canager Susan Bedsole, and interim Police Chief Jim Blocker, want to know if a possible relationship is affecting others in the department.

“The investigation relates to an alleged personal relationship that may have created a hostile work environment, thereby having a negative impact on the department and its personnel,” said Bedsole.

Both she and Chief Blocker read from prepared statements at a news conference at City Hall on Friday.  Neither would answer questions afterward.

The investigation is not criminal and is being handled by the Human Resources Department at the city.

Alonso and Saylor have been placed on paid leave during the investigation.  Court documents involving a divorce for Deputy Saylor contain allegations the relationship between the two may date back more than a year.

An independent journalist with Paleo Radio brought the court documents to the attention of FOX 17.  We were able to confirm the documents at Calhoun County Circuit Court.

In those documents, dated March of 2013, Saylor’s ex-wife states that Saylor, “…has been having an affair with the detective in internal affairs, Battle Creek City Police Department.”

City Commissioner Michael Sherzer said relationships within the department happen from time to time.

“We’ve had officers that have met in the department and turned out to get married,” said Sherzer.  “It certainly isn’t uncommon.”

City leaders are more concerned with the effects a possible relationship would have on other officers and the perception it puts out to the public.

“Men and women are out there doing the best they can,” Sherzer said of the department.  “It’s a distraction and it’s not good.”

The interim police chief has only been on the job for a couple weeks but he knows there is a reputation to rebuild.

“I cannot allow even the perception that we have compromised our integrity, command or ethical practices,” said Chief Blocker.

The city is hopeful the investigation will wrap up in four weeks.