City Manager Issues Statement on Allegations About Auburn Police
July 26, 2013
Unfortunately, a former Police Officer who was terminated from employment with the City of Auburn over three months ago has made false and unsubstantiated allegations surrounding the Auburn Police Division and the basis for his termination. Although I cannot comment in detail on the specific basis for the termination, I would agree with former Police Chief Dawson’s statement in the OA News that there’s more to the story than is being told. Although Mr. Hanners and his former counsel have a copy of his personnel file, which contains the basis of his termination, it is evident that he has not chosen to share that information with the media.
Over the years, our Annual Citizen Survey has indicated that enforcement of traffic laws and police visibility in neighborhoods should be a priority. While understanding the importance of this issue with our citizens, the Auburn Police Division has not chosen to employ quotas for tickets or arrests to meet this goal. However, the message that there is a quota was wrongfully conveyed through supervisory channels to at least one patrol shift. When this was brought to the attention of Police administration last Fall, supervisory personnel were reminded of the appropriate way to communicate shift duties including the enforcement of traffic laws. Chief Register, as well as former Chief Dawson, have made it clear that they do not require quotas in the Auburn Police Division. If any Auburn Police officer is unclear on the expectations of the Chief or his supervisor, Chief Register, Public Safety Director Bill James and I all have open door policies and will be happy to hear their concerns and make our expectations clear.
For Patrol Officers, those expectations do include enforcing traffic laws, which does require making contact with individuals on Auburn streets and sidewalks. Officers make those contacts not in response to quotas, but in response to apparent violations of the law.
Because we do take all allegations seriously, when former Police Chief Dawson informed the City Manager’s office that allegations of corruption had been made he asked if someone from outside of the division would perform an evaluation to substantiate or disprove those allegations. The City Manager authorized the City Attorney to commission an evaluation by an independent party. The City Attorney hired Bob Eddy, who has been an Investigator at the Alabama Attorney General’s office and an Assistant Director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, to conduct an investigation. Mr. Eddy was given free rein to look at police records, interview officers and staff and take as long as needed to do a thorough investigation. Mr. Eddy conducted an almost 700 hour investigation, including exhaustive interviews with Auburn Police personnel and found no corruption or wrongdoing.
The real tragedy of an unfounded accusation like the one leveled by Mr. Hanners is the negative impact that such a charge of corruption makes upon the officers we employ. The Auburn Police Division is an excellent and effective Police force staffed with dedicated officers. As a result of their tireless efforts, burglaries are down in Auburn by 32% over this time last year and are down 18.6% year-to-date. In our most recent citizen survey, satisfaction with the quality of local police protection was 89%, 15 points above the national average of cities surveyed. Only 2.6% of respondents indicated that they were dissatisfied with local police protection.
We have investigated the accusations that have been made and have found them to be false. I’m confident, and I hope our citizens remain confident, in the integrity and quality of the Auburn Police Division.