Lewd comments revealed in Ada Twp. fire chief harassment investigations

Posted at 7:32 PM, Dec 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-13 19:32:43-05

ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Documents revealing lewd comments and behavior from the Ada Township fire chief have been released after two internal investigations that led to weeks of paid administrative leave.

Firefighter Justin Arnold filed the original complaint with Ada Township back in October saying, "Chief Dave  Murray takes pleasure in harassing me, making jokes towards me, makes degrading, insulting and harmful comments to me in front of my peers."

Miller Johnson Attorneys spearheaded both investigations after Arnold accused Chief Murray of a handful of lewd sexual comments and pervasive behavior. When asked to explain himself, the chief explained it was his sense of humor.

"We’re like a family," said Chief Murray. "To get through some of the hard things we see, you switch it to humor. It was a learning experience for all of us. It's things that have been going on for years and it’s time to change that."

Seventeen pages from the investigative documents indicate Chief Murray would brag about having sex with his wife to other staff and make sexually derogatory comments about the firefighters and their wives.

"The part about the wives, I have no idea what they're talking about," Chief Murray said. "It's more of the nicknames and things like that, there may have been jokes that probably shouldn't have been said."

More than a dozen staff members were interviewed during the investigation, telling the firm Chief Murray frequently engaged in offensive sexual banter in the workplace, showed favoritism and special privilege to coworkers he likes, encouraged firefighters to race their vehicles on duty, and took car parts from the scene of a crash.

"Anything that’s ever been picked up has always been busted off of a car," Chief Murray said.

However, a second investigation began after firefighter Arnold filed another complaint, indicating the chief threatened to retaliate for the first.

"Apparently it bothered one person more than the others and we worked on changing things along those lines," the chief said. "There's a class I'm going to take to help me become a better leader. Other than that, no disciplinary action at all. It was more of a review and, 'how are things going at the department?'"

After weeks of paid administrative leave, Chief Murray returned to work Nov. 14.

We reached out to the Township Supervisor George Haga who said he's unable to make a comment because it's a 'personal matter.'