WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, OH — An internal investigation related to a “cronyism” Facebook post involving a West Chester police captain who filed a misconduct complaint against the chief found he violated policies and procedures by “displaying disrespect and disdain towards the Police Chief and his position” and “making false or misleading” statements in late January, township records released Friday show.
Capt. Jamie Hensley filed his formal complaint with the township about the chief on Feb. 24, alleging racism, sexism, failure to address sexual harassment, retaliation and mishandling of public records. Another captain, Joe Gutman, filed a similar complaint.
Township trustees directed their law firm to hire a private attorney to investigate the complaints in March, township records.
As that probe wrapped up, Hensley abruptly quit June 23, writing in his resignation letter: “I believe this is the only option left that protects my family, my health, and my career without compromising my values. It is unfortunate to have been treated this way for taking a principled stance and others may fear coming forward in the future as a result.”
Hensley’s internal investigation was referenced in a report released earlier this week by the private attorney who looked into the complaints against the chief, Doug Duckett.
The report found that Hensley was “dishonest” in the situation related to the internal investigation and for alleging in his complaint the chief was in a “blackface” photo on Facebook but can no longer be disciplined because he left.
“There were clear grounds to bring several charges of dishonesty against Capt. Hensley, both for statements in the meetings of January 28 and 29 and in my interview,” Duckett wrote.
“His abrupt resignation before I issued my written report mooted any need for disciplinary proceedings on that question, but given some of the reckless and simply false accusations that he hurled against Chief Herzog, it is important to state, for the record, my investigation’s conclusion that Capt. Hensley lied.”
West Chester Township officials released audio of the interviews conducted during the internal investigation. Here is Hensley’s audio:
Duckett determined the chief did not retaliate against his captains, appear in “blackface” photo or mishandle investigations.
Duckett also determined the chief should not be disciplined despite admitting he called Middle Easterners “terrorists,” and Indians “dots” and referred to a Latino officer as “brown Mike.”
Two West Chester police officers have since filed complaints about the “brown Mike’ reference, including the officer who says he was the victim of that racially inappropriate comment but was not interviewed by Duckett.
Duckett recommended the township put the chief’s performance on watch and have a psychologist conduct team-building exercises inside a department he said had a “dysfunctional and toxic workplace dynamic.”
When the township released Hensley’s internal investigation Friday night, the township spokeswoman said in a statement:
“The internal investigation was complete, except for findings, but was halted to allow the third-party investigation to take place. The final report of the internal investigation was completed this week and, therefore, becomes a public record which some, if not all, of the media outlets have requested.
“There is no administrative action to take as a result if this internal investigation because the subject of the investigation resigned/retired and is no longer employed by West Chester Township. The record, however, is a public document and is being released as requested.
“There are audio recordings associated with this record, but due to issues with Dropbox, we are unable to provide today. The recordings will be available Monday hopefully. The documents here, however, do include a certified transcript of the recordings.
“On Monday, I could perhaps respond to questions about the Police Department’s Integrity & Development Unit. Because of ongoing investigation, however, the Township (including Chief Herzog) will not have further comment on the specifics of the investigation.”
We reached out to Hensley’s attorney for comment on the internal investigation.
She said in a statement Friday night: “This is a continuation of the sham paper trail the Chief has been trying to build on Captain Hensley as punishment for speaking up.
“The Chief asked for this investigation only after he learned Captain Hensley was hiring a lawyer. There is no reason I can think of to issue an investigation report for someone who doesn’t even work there anymore, other than to build a legal defense.
“I am sure people can and will see right through this. Apparently the Township will stop at nothing. Until the Township’s smear campaign, Captain Hensley’s 20-year reputation for integrity and honesty was unquestioned, and it still is to the people who know him and the situation both in and out of the department.
“Where is the investigation into why Chief Herzog thinks his employees would read the definition of cronyism and conclude it referred to him? That’s the real issue. Not when or how my client heard about his wife’s word of the day on Facebook. This sends a clear message to the officers whose new complaints are being allegedly investigated right now: back down or get dragged through the mud. Speak at your peril. It is unconscionable.”
On Thursday, the local chapter of the NAACP and CAIR Ohio called for federal authorities to investigate the complaints against the chief.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Fred Alverson, declined to comment on the situation in West Chester specifically but said in general Thursday: “We will work with the civil rights division and the FBI anytime there is evidence that federal crimes have been committed.”