Warnings to certain Cleveland, Tenn., police officers against “dating minors, porn on city-owned phones, consumption of alcoholic beverages while off-duty, snorting crushed pills [and] oral sex in public” in May 2008, didn’t include enough specifics to warrant an investigation, the city’s police chief says.
Chief Wes Snyder and his top assistant this week have denied they failed to timely investigate allegations that some officers were involved in prescription pill abuse and sex with underage girls.
Now an internal police memo from May 29, 2008, raises questions about how hard police brass tried to find out what their officers were doing.
Snyder still insists there wasn’t enough information to begin an investigation.
“We had no victims, no proof to act on,” Snyder said in a email Friday after the Times Free Press sent him a copy of the memo.
Snyder and others have said top police in Cleveland didn’t know whether allegations of drug abuse and sex with minors were true before an officer was shot and wounded by another officer at a pill party in December 2008. An investigation into the shooting brought in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and led to the indictment of two officers on charges of having sex with 14- and 16-year-old girls.
But the memo that turned up in the internal affairs investigation of the shooting indicates police brass had some fairly specific information on possible misconduct.
The memo by Assistant Chief Gary Hicks, on Cleveland Police Department stationery, detailed a meeting that Hicks conducted for officers Jon Hammons, Bill Higdon and Thomas. Officer Dennis Hughes was asked to attend but was absent.
According to the memo, the officers’ supervisors, Sgt. Matt Jenkins, Lt. Danny Chastain, Lt. Steve Tyson and Lt. Lamar Anderson, also were present, along with police Capt. Wesley Dilbeck, Capt. Tommy McClain and Cleveland Personnel Director Jeff Davis.
According to the memo, “No accusations were made; however, the officers were warned about unbecoming and unacceptable behavior including, but not limited to, dating minors, porn on City-owned phones, consumption of alcoholic beverages while off-duty, snorting crushed pills, oral sex in public and running from other law enforcement agencies.”
Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...