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Published: 6/5/2001

Hillsdale County town wants to know why police chief was ousted

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

READING, Mich. - Nearly a month after their police chief was fired, residents in this small Hillsdale County community are still asking why.

The ties between the city and David Graham were officially severed May 11, when he was dismissed as chief. At the time, City Manager Don Beavers said he was “uncomfortable” with Mr. Graham in the job.

That's not enough for those who support the ousted chief. A five-member committee will meet for the first time tomorrow to draft a letter to city officials expressing displeasure with how the issue was handled. They hope the letter will lead to answers at city council's June 12 meeting.

“First of all, Chief Graham was very popular. That's at the heart of the matter right there,” said Bob Heinowski, owner of Reading Building Supply and a member of the committee. “My own concern is about how it was done.”

Mr. Graham, who was hired as chief in March, 2000, after working for the Chicago Housing Authority, could not be reached for comment.

Last year, Mr. Graham was acquitted of a misdemeanor assault charge. An 18-year-old man who said the chief slapped him while he was being questioned filed the complaint. Mr. Graham was placed on administrative leave, but continued to serve as an officer within the two-man department.

Despite his popularity, officials said he did not fulfill some of his conditions of employment, including that he get his Michigan law-enforcement certification.

Mr. Beavers has declined to release information about his decision, citing “privacy issues.'' He said city attorney Lew Loren will attend the meeting to provide what information the city can release.

“David still has his civil rights,” Mr. Beavers said yesterday. “I felt uncomfortable with David as chief of police and felt it was best that we part ways.”



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