“We kind of feel like we’re out of options,” FOP calls for chief’s suspension amid ethics complaint

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Appearing before the city council Tuesday morning, the Oklahoma City Fraternal of Police called for the suspension of the city's police chief amid an investigation into an alleged ethics violation.

"We kind of feel like we’re out of options. We feel like we don’t have any options left on the table other than to address you all as the council of Oklahoma City," FOP vice president Mark Nelson said. "It’s tearing at the very fabric that holds us together. It really, really is."

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty is accused in a ethics complaint of retaliating against the four top officers under his command for seeking overtime pay. The four deputy police chiefs -- Jeff Becker, Wade Gourley, Tom Jester, and Brian Jennings -- are pursuing a grievance against the city over the unpaid time.

According to the complaint, "the comments made by the Chief about retaliation for the subject of our grievance and his directing us not to tell anyone what he said caused significant workplace stress and pressure on the Deputy Chiefs. It created a strained relationship because we report directly to Chief Citty and he is in a position of authority over us."

Nelson, who is also a sergeant with the Oklahoma City Police Department, said it was appropriate to place Citty under administrative leave until the complaint is fully investigated by the city auditor.

"What we are trying to do here is not have smoke in the mirrors, there are some valid reasons why officers should be placed on administrative leave. It happens all the time. We’ve probably got a dozen on administrative leave right now," Nelson said. "That behavior, that activity, that standard should be the same regardless if you’re an officer, a sergeant, a lieutenant, any type of supervisor or even the chief of police. We’ve had majors put on administrative leave."

Speaking with reporters after the council meeting, Chief Citty said he wanted to respect the process of the investigation.

"I feel like these things should not be discussed in the media. The facts of it shouldn’t be. The investigation should take place, and it should take place in the right manner," Citty said. "I respect all officers that are covered by the collective bargaining agreement to file a complaint or or grievance and they are, so I respect that. I have to respect that. I always have so as far as that goes, they have the right to do it and to file the complaint and we’re going to respond to it the best we can."

Regarding the FOP's call, Citty said "I would only disagree in the fact that every case is taken on under individual circumstances as to what’s happening. So in many cases, they aren’t suspended. There was a case were officers had complaints against other officers. They weren’t suspended. They were just moved to other areas."

The decision to place him on administrative leave would have to be made by the city manager. Oklahoma City's current city manager Jim Couch is set to retire effective January 2.

Craig Freeman, current city finance director, was announced as Couch's successor on Tuesday afternoon following an executive session.

"I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I’m humbled by it, because it’s a great challenge but I think it’s a great city," Freeman said regarding his new position. "The citizens have shown they’re willing to invest in themselves and it’s our responsibility to fulfill the promises that have been made the citizens."

With respect to the FOP's call to suspend Chief Citty, Freeman said "I think right now, we’re doing an investigation internally. It’s something that’s being handled as a personnel matter, and I think until we get the details of that we can’t really make a decision."

Citty said he says no plans of stepping down.

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