Posted 6:16 PM 5/22/2012 : Police chief on leave in Canon City resigns
Canon City's police chief, Duane McNeill, who was placed on paid-administrative leave in April, is resigning.
Mayor Tony Greer, who initiated the audit, says the resignation came as a surprise last week. He says the city is now working out a plan to find a replacement; they plan on looking inside and outside of the department for candidates.
Back in April McNeill told News 5 he felt he was being unfairly targeted and that he would fight to clear his name. McNeil couldn't be reached for comment following his resignation.
"Regardless of who was right or who was wrong, there's a healing process that we're going to have to go through," says Mayor Greer. "We're going to move on."
Mayor Greer says he began the audit after hearing complaints from officers and members of the community about McNeill's conduct, and even after McNeill was placed on leave he still heard from the community.
"The chief had plenty of supporters," says Greer. "I've received a lot of letters of people that were in support of the chief; I've received a lot of letters of people that didn't care for him too much, and I'd say it was probably about 50/50 from what I received."
However, it was what was in the audit that had Greer and others concerned; claims of discrimination and sexual harassment in the department. Also, the Mayor says McNeill was using cameras in the office to spy on employees. The results told them to dig deeper.
"(The study) Indicated that it was probably worth the money to have a full-out investigation," explains Mayor Greer. He says that began a couple of weeks ago; it's being conducted by an outside investigator and Greer says it isn't complete yet. If they find illegal activity, Greer says going after charges isn't out of the question.
As for any sort of a severance package that the former chief is receiving from the city, the Mayor believes McNeil is getting one.
"I believe there are some terms that he negotiated with City Hall, I'm not privy to that at this point," says Greer; he adds that elected officials can't speak to personnel matters.
Calls were made to the City Administrator, Doug Dotson; asking about details on any severance deal with McNeill, or if the outgoing chief gave any reasons for his resignation in the letter he turned in last week. They haven't been returned.
In the meantime the department is moving forward; two captains have been handling the chief's responsibilities, and Mayor Greer says they'll keep it that way for now.
"There won't be any deterioration of service to the citizens of our community in the meantime," says Greer.
Greer adds that the search for a replacement will probably pick up in the next two weeks. He says they aren't putting a timeline on the decision making process right now because they don't want to rush to any decisions.
Also, no word on when the investigation into the Canon City Police Department is expected to be completed. Check with KOAA.com for updates.