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Published: Tuesday, 11/7/2000

Secret report in Hudson draws fire from citizens

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

HUDSON, Mich. - Richard Marken believes city officials are responsible for keeping residents informed about problems facing this southeast Michigan community.

That's why Mr. Marken, a Hudson resident, is upset that city officials have refused to release the findings of a nearly yearlong investigation of the tiny but troubled police department.

“I think all the residents should feel cheated,” he said. “There were a lot of things that went on that shouldn't have gone on and the police got away scot-free with it.”

Mr. Marken is not alone.

Many of Hudson's 2,800 residents are wondering why the results of the independent study are staying locked away.

The study reportedly cost $25,465 out of the city's $4,057,415 budget.

City Manager Mark Knoblauch was not available for comment.

Previously, Mr. Knoblauch said that the results of the departmental review were sealed on the advice of labor attorneys.

Resident William Hartmann III said that the price tag of the study was too high to keep residents in the dark.

In addition, he said, making the results public would mean that the department would have to take responsibility for the findings.

“My feelings have always been, and I've told the city manager, that me personally and others in the community, feel entitled to knowing where that amount went,” said Mr. Hartmann, 67. “The way I look at it, they need to give us something more now that this investigation is over with. But they have taken the stand that this is as far as they're going.''

City council members ordered the investigation in response to residents' complaints against the police department, which has three-full time officers.

One complaint led to the October conviction of a former Hudson police officer in Lenawee County Circuit Court. A jury convicted him of felonious assault for drawing his gun on a motorist who disobeyed his order at a traffic accident.

Another officer was cited by a Lenawee County sheriff's deputy for careless driving in a no-passing zone.

Former Police Chief Charles Herman, who retired from the department Oct. 11, also was a source of controversy. The chief was placed on administrative leave this spring, a few months after he had left on medical leave in February.

Since the former chief was placed on leave, the department has been headed by acting Chief Bruce Van Wieren.

Mr. Knoblauch has said that the information would not be released because it contained “unsubstantiated information” about past and present employees. But the investigation did lead to changes in the department, primarily in opening the lines of communication between the administration and the police.

David Curtis, a retired federal treasury agent and former private investigator, led the investigation.

County Commissioner Robert Hall, who lives in and owns a business in Hudson, said he was surprised that the report was not released. But Mr. Hall said he believes residents are more confident in the police department.

“Things seem to be getting better and I don't know how much good it would do to open up the report,” he said “But it does gives credence to all the rumors.”



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