In 2002, Allen Park PD Chief Kenneth Dobson was facing a lawsuit from one of his police officers: Officer Marcos Madrigal. Dobson's ex wife, Lt. Lori Sanford would be testifying for Officer Madrigal / against Chief Dobson. Prior to his ex-wife's testimony, Chief Dobson tried to coece and intimidate her into providing favorable testimony for him.
Despite the Chief's threats, Lt. Lori Sanford testified at the deposition to the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband, Allen Park PD Chief Kenneth Dobson.
According to Sanford's testimony, her ex-husband Chief Dobson threw her into a trash can...
....And shoved coffee grinds in her mouth during one domestic assault.
Chief Dobson locked his wife outside of their house....While she wore nothing but her underwear.
Chief Dobson threatened to kill her cats.
Chief Dobson threw a plant stand at her.
At one time, Lt. Sanford testified, she had filed a police report against her husband / Chief Dobson, but nothing was done.
Throughout her marriage to Chief Dobson, Lt. Sanford testified that he was physically and psychologically abusive.
Following Lt. Sanford's testimony to the domestic violence abuse she had been subjected to, Chief Dobson "engaged in a pattern of discrimination and harassment by threatening and intimidating her and by creating a hostile work environment...."
"...Dobson verbally and publicly berated (Sanford) despite the fact that (she) had not violated any rule or regulation … ,"
"....Dobson's abuse was so malevolent, offensive and vitriolic that (Sanford), a seasoned, well-respected and decorated police officer, was reduced to tears and (placed) in fear for her personal safety..."
"... demonstrate that, in the Police Department, … Dobson was above the law, accountable to no one and free to do whatever he pleased,"
In February 2004, Lt. Lori Sanford filed a lawsuit against the City of Allen Park and Chief Dobson. Sanford won her lawsuit....And, Chief Dobson retired shortly thereafter.
Thank you Lt. Lori Sanford, for giving voice to Officer Involved Domestic Violence. You gave voice and strength to so many others who have been silenced.
Grievances may lead to promotion and early retirement
Published: Sunday, March 04, 2007
By Bobby Ampezzan
ALLEN PARK — The city is once again shuffling positions in the Police Department.
On Thursday, Inspector Dale Covert began administrative duties unofficially as the city's deputy chief. In two weeks, fellow Inspector Michael Cameron expects to begin his retirement, though he still will be paid through December.
By contract, both must retire Jan. 1.
The city will not confirm the deal. And whether or not it is in the city's best interest is being questioned by some.
Attorney Howard Shifman, the city's chief labor negotiator said, that until "we've reached an agreement, or have one that's been signed, I'm not going to comment."
But several police officers, including Covert and Cameron who alone comprise the department's Command Officers Association of Michigan that negotiated the deal, say it's all but inked.
"Our union and the city have reached an amicable agreement, and I'm eager to get going," said Covert, who's been on the force more than 27 years.
"This is what the city offered to settle (the grievances)," said Cameron, who's been a police officer in Allen Park 31 years. "I'm satisfied."
The negotiated changes are the result of the settlement of two grievances and an unfair labor practice charge filed by Cameron and Covert.
The changes have prompted Lt. Mark Koller, who had been told previously he was in line for Covert's promotion, to say: "How do you take someone (Covert) and make him deputy chief because you don't want to deal with lawsuits?
"It tells everyone in the Police Department, 'Don't work hard,' 'Don't be honest,' 'Don't be loyal'."
Lt. Lori Sanford, who has filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the administration's handling of the appointment of a police chief following the retirement of Dennis Gallow last year, evaluated the news another way.
"I'm extremely excited (the administration) brought back the deputy chief's position," she said.
Sanford was in line to be promoted to the rank of inspector two years ago when the administration negotiated with Covert and Cameron's union to end both the ranks of inspectors and deputy chief.
"Any position they bring back is positive for other officers in the department," Sanford said. "There are very few advancement positions now."
Of Covert and Cameron's agreements, Police Chief Dean Tamsen said Thursday that "the City Council still has the ability to say, 'You know what, this is not what we want. This isn't what we were looking for.' They have the ultimate say."
City Administrator Anthony Rinna said Friday that "as of this day, we have nothing."
According to Shifman, in their grievances, Covert and Cameron claim the ascendance of Tamsen violated a collective bargaining agreement, and that the promotion should have come from within the inspector's rank.
At the time the city negotiated to do away with the ranks of inspectors and deputy chief, however, it also eliminated state Act 78 testing and seized the power to select a chief on its own.
Cameron's deal will allow him to cease working at the department within the month, though he will continue to be paid as if he were working through December.
For Covert, the deal might mean an overall loss of annual income — the slight raise that attends the promotion is offset by the end of overtime opportunities.
It's difficult to accept "the amount of tax dollars (the city administration) continues to waste," said Detective James Wilkewitz, who represents police and fire personnel on the Allen Park Employees Retirement System Board.
Both inspectors are what remains in the department of a controversial "delayed retirement option plan." This maneuver allowed certain senior employees to collect pensions while they continued to work. These pensions were saved (deferred) until retirement, at which time the employees would receive one lump sum.
According to the formula used, Covert and Cameron have accrued between $150,000 and $200,000 in three years of DROP.
At the time, the plan was expected to offer an incentive for retirement. Rinna said later it's "not what I would call advantageous for the city."
The matter will be discussed further this week in closed session, and likely in another closed session March 13. It might be announced at the City Council meeting immediately afterward, at 7 p.m.
Lawsuits settled; terms undisclosed
Published: Sunday, April 09, 2006
By Lena Khzouz, The News-Herald
ALLEN PARK — A chapter in the city's history that includes several lawsuits against the Police Department and the city has come to a close.
The last remaining lawsuit stemming from that era has been settled, but the terms of the settlement are not being disclosed.
Curtis McGuire Sr. and Curtis McGuire Jr. sued the city partly as a result of the elder's arrest at a March 2003 City Council meeting.
During the residents' comments portion of that meeting, McGuire Sr. had been talking about negative comments that he allegedly heard former Mayor Levon King say about former Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
After being told to stop talking several times, King ordered him arrested, and McGuire was handcuffed and escorted out of the council chamber.
While they were in the hallway, a bump or a shove occurred between McGuire Jr. and former police Cpl. James Riviera.
McGuire Jr. was charged with assault and battery on a police officer as a result.
The charges against both McGuires were later dismissed.
Their lawsuit also discussed a complaint to the city's Board of Ethics that was made about McGuire Jr., which occurred during current Mayor Richard Huebler's term but before Dobson retired.
It alleged that as a member of the city's Public Safety Commission, McGuire Jr. became involved with an ongoing investigation that he should not have interfered with.
Before members of the Board of Ethics hear complaints, several steps must be taken to assure that a board hearing is merited. In this case, the issue never came before the board.
Attorney Michael Weaver, who represented the city through its insurance provider, said the matter has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties.
A confidentiality clause keeps the people involved from releasing the details of the settlement.
"It was a satisfactory amount," McGuire Sr. said. "That's all I was told I could say by my lawyers."
The McGuires' lawsuit came on the heels of and was, to some extent, linked to several police employees' lawsuits.
The first and most notable was a lawsuit by Officer Marcos Madrigal, who alleged that Dobson discriminated against him because he is Mexican-American.
Madrigal's lawsuit is the only one that was decided by a jury, and he was awarded more than $2 million in September 2004.
Partially as a result of depositions in the Madrigal matter and because of various unrelated events, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones, Lt. Lori Sanford and Inspector Michael Cameron filed their own lawsuits, alleging retaliation and harassment.
Sanford and Cameron settled out of court for $35,000 and $5,000, respectively, and Jones' lawsuit was dismissed.
Former department employee Cheryl Chuba also filed a lawsuit. She said she was retaliated against, and eventually lost her job, after she provided information about a police vehicle auction that she said did not follow proper rules.
Her lawsuit also was settled out of court, and she was granted $115,000.
The documents state that the settlements are compromises and that payments should not be construed as an admission of liability.
But now that the McGuires' suit has been settled as well, that entire situation is all over, and times have changed.
Although his lawsuit was dismissed, Jones said it was not a total loss, especially because the Allen Park Police Department is now "a nice place to work again."
Appeals court tosses out officer's lawsuit
Published: Wednesday, February 08, 2006
By Lena Khzouz
The U.S. Court of Appeals has agreed with U.S. District Court that an Allen Park police sergeant's lawsuit against a former chief should be thrown out.
"That means it's all done and over with," said Paul Pedersen, who handled the matter as the attorney for the city's insurance provider.
Detective Sgt. Larry Jones said everything he went through for those years was not a total loss, however.
The city had to pay for depositions that were held because of city leaders' refusal to answer questions, and that says something about the way the city handled things, he said.
The former chief, Kenneth Dobson, retired last year. During his last few years, he was the subject of legal action by three other officers, another employee and two residents.
"With all the lawsuits, they were all pretty much interrelated to one common denominator, which was Ken Dobson," Jones said. "Now, to me, it's a nice place to work again."
Officer Marcos Madrigal's case is the only one that went to trial, and a jury awarded him more than $2 million. Others were settled out of court, and a lawsuit by residents Curtis McGuire Sr. and Curtis McGuire Jr. is pending.
Pedersen said he never believed the city or Dobson did anything wrong.
Jones sued the city and Dobson in 2003, alleging violation of the state's Whistleblowers' Protection Act as a result of testimony he gave in Madrigal's lawsuit.
Madrigal had sued Dobson and the city for racial discrimination, and Jones was called to give a deposition on April 24, 2002.
In Jones' lawsuit, which is summarized in the appeals court's opinion, Jones listed several incidents that occurred at about that time that he believed were in retaliation to his testimony.
On Feb. 3, 2002, a stabbing involving Dobson's neighbors occurred on the former chief's front lawn. The next day, Dobson filed a disciplinary charge because Jones did not report the attempted homicide to Dobson.
Dobson also charged Jones with neglecting to order interviews of witnesses and failing to call in a detective that night, all of which caused the department to expend hundreds of extra hours of work to investigate the stabbing, according to the summary.
Jones believed the charges were retaliatory.
Dennis Gallow, who was then the deputy and is now chief, recommended that Jones be suspended for 10 days.
A chief's hearing on the charge against Jones was held April 19, 2002. On April 22, Dobson sent a letter advising him that he would be suspended for five days.
After Jones testified in the Madrigal matter on April 24, 2002, Dobson reduced Jones' suspension to a letter of reprimand.
In another event that exemplifies the alleged retaliation, Jones was scheduled to testify May 29, 2002, before a city commission.
On May 6 and 15, Jones received letters from Dobson regarding an erroneous overtime payment made to Jones, and Jones agreed to reimburse the $233.60 in overtime pay.
Another event Jones described occurred in June 2002.
Then, officers from the Michigan State Police and an FBI agent interviewed city officers to select officers for undercover work for the FBI. Jones was among those interviewed, but was not selected.
Another incident occurred in early 2003.
The department engaged in tobacco stings, which led to overtime pay, but Jones said the assignments were not posted as they should have been. Overall, Jones also believed that rumors were spread about him.
He wrote letters to his supervisor on Sept. 26, 2002, and Jan. 8, 2003, about this perceived harassment.
Jones then filed the lawsuit on Feb. 27, 2003, in Wayne County Circuit Court, and from there it went to federal court.
After the federal court dismissed it, Jones appealed and the U.S. Court of Appeals rendered its decision last month.
Although he can appeal once again, reactions from both sides seem to indicate that the issue most likely has come to a close.
Shredding leads to stricter policy
Published: Sunday, April 03, 2005
ALLEN PARK — Visitors and guests are not allowed to walk around unescorted in the police station.
That's what the rule has been for a long time, but the Public Safety Commission agreed Tuesday that there should be a reminder and clarification.
The resolution to ask Deputy Chief Dennis Gallow to draft such guidelines comes on the heels of a day when former Police Chief Kenneth Dobson shredded documents in the records area of the station.
Dobson has been involved in several lawsuits since 2001, some of which are still pending.
According to the resolution, Gallow must draft guidelines dealing with any visitors to the police station, and the policy will state that visitors must be escorted while they are in restricted areas, said Curtis McGuire Jr., a commissioner.
The commission members do not know which areas should be considered restricted, which is why they wanted Gallow to clarify the areas in the policy, said Dale Lewis, chairman.
"You can't come into the police station without an escort, and it's pretty much what it's going to be still," Lewis said.
He said the commission made the resolution now just to make sure there are no problems.
McGuire said that it was "because of former Chief Dobson going in and shredding documents."
Whether or not there was any impropriety, it doesn't look good, he said.
Gallow said that Dobson had been shredding personal documents.
McGuire noted that open discovery is ongoing in some of the lawsuits, including his own.
McGuire and his father, Curtis McGuire Sr., allege that they have been harassed. They especially highlight an incident in 2002 when the elder McGuire was arrested at a City Council meeting when he tried to state that former Mayor Levon King had criticized Dobson during a private conversation.
A lawsuit by Detective Sgt. Larry Jones against Dobson and the city is in the appeals process, and a trial for former records clerk Cheryl Chuba's case will begin May 3 before U.S. District Judge George Steeh.
She alleges that the city violated the federal Whistleblower's Protection Act when she was retaliated against after she provided information about a police vehicle auction that she claimed did not follow proper rules.
The rule about requiring escorts will apply to commission members, visitors and former police officers, Lewis and McGuire said.
McGuire said the rule should apply to anyone who is not a current, paid member of the Police Department and that it should apply to the mayor or other such elected official.
Questions rise over shredding of papers
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2005
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — Deputy Police Chief Dennis Gallow said during a Civil Service Commission meeting last week that retired Police Chief Kenneth Dobson was given permission to shred documents in the police station.
Dobson's retirement began Feb. 19, but he shredded the papers this month. He has been involved in controversy for several years.
"He had permission to go into records to shred some documents," Gallow said during Friday's meeting.
After Commissioner Malcolm Beaton questioned Gallow about that fact, Gallow said the paperwork was personal documents.
During the discussion, City Attorney David Tamsen said Beaton had no right to ask Gallow such questions.
"That is not the bailiwick of this commission," Tamsen said. "This commission is responsible for processing new hires, promotions and processing disciplines after they've been initiated through the departments."
When Beaton wanted to make sure that Gallow's comments would appear in the minutes of the meeting, Tamsen said they could not.
"It's not an issue of this commission, so it can't appear in your minutes," Tamsen said.
Beaton asked him to clarify why that is so, seeing as how the discussion "emanates" from the meeting.
"It's not a proper subject matter of this commission," he said.
Beaton later said Gallow should take the heat for the idea that Dobson was given permission to go unescorted into the records room.
"After what transpired at that meeting, when he admitted that Ken Dobson was in there shredding documents, then the mayor and the council has no other recourse but to fire Dennis Gallow in order to bring integrity back into that police department," he said.
Dobson has been the target of several lawsuits over the past few years.
In one case, a federal jury awarded Officer Marcos Madrigal $4.1 million last year after he accused Dobson of discriminating against him be-cause he is Mexican-American.
Madrigal and his wife then negotiated a settlement with the city's insurance company for $2.25 million.
After Madrigal's claims surfaced, several officers and other people who are active in the city were asked to provide information related to his case.
Three of those officers claimed that Dobson retaliated against them because of their testimonies. They said that he harassed them for unrelated reasons as well. They then sued Dobson and the city, and two of those lawsuits are pending.
Curtis McGuire Sr. and Curtis McGuire Jr., who have been members of the Public Safety Commission, also have a lawsuit pending against the city that alleges they have been harassed.
Former records clerk Cheryl Chuba also is suing the city, claiming that its representatives violated the federal Whistleblowers Protection Act after she provided information about a police vehicle auction that she said was handled inappropriately.
The only trial that has been held was for Madrigal's case, but a trial in the Chuba matter is scheduled to begin May 3 before U.S. District Judge George Steeh.
City Administrator Anthony Rinna said that on the day that Dobson shredded the paperwork, he had been asked to come in for a deposition in the Chuba matter.
Dobson came into the police station early to look over some material in order to refresh his memory before he went into the interview, Rinna said.
As he did so, he asked Gallow if he could shred some personal documents while he was in there, Rinna said.
But Beaton insists Dobson should not have been able to do so, especially considering that lawsuits are pending.
"Is that going to have a profound effect on the remaining lawsuits?" he said.
"Would they extend that same courtesy to Cheryl Chuba even though she no longer works there?"
Beaton said he wonders why Dobson would be given access to anything.
"He had no business being in that (station)," Beaton said. "He is retired. He is a civilian.
"No matter where you work, say the Big Three, when you retire or they lay you off, they escort you off the premises. You are not allowed back."
Beaton noted that Madrigal was not given the same courtesy when he was suspended, which was one of many issues discussed during his trial.
During his suspension, Madrigal was not allowed in the restricted areas of the station.
Dobson, on the other hand, is not an employee at all anymore, Beaton said.
"So they have a double set of standards, one for the patrolman, and one for the police chief, and that is wrong," Beaton said.
Police detective says official slandered him
Published: Sunday, January 16, 2005
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — Detective Sgt. Larry Jones recently filed a complaint against Dale Lewis, chairman of the Public Safety Commission, for allegedly spreading false and slanderous statements.
Within days, City Attorney David Tamsen said officials had looked into the letter and found it to be without merit.
The differing opinions center on whether discussions did or did not happen about an investigation that only a few people knew anything about. Even Jones, the supposed investigation target, said he knew nothing about it.
Jones recently received a McKeever Award from the Public Safety Commission for outstanding service.
But in his complaint earlier this month to the Civil Service Commission and City Administrator Anthony Rinna, he wrote that Lewis tried to contact officials to revoke the award.
"I have spoken to various officials at City Hall, and they stated that Commissioner Lewis told them that I was under investigation by Chief (Kenneth) Dobson, that I have a mental problem and that my fellow detectives have made complaints against me," Jones wrote.
Jones also said he was unaware of those accusations before speaking with the unnamed officials.
"These statements have evidently been spread around my workplace and throughout the community," he wrote.
Jones said the rumors are a continuation of the hostile work environment that he has faced for years. He has a lawsuit pending against the city and Dobson for such reasons.
"I find these accusations to be false, offensive, hostile, damaging to my reputation and without basis," Jones wrote.
Lewis declined to comment about the issue.
In a letter of response to Jones, Tamsen wrote that there was an investigation about Jones at that time, but that it was done so discreetly that even Jones did not know about it.
Tamsen would not elaborate on the investigation. He did say, however, that policies exist to keep unfounded allegations from spreading, which is why the complaint about Jones was handled so quietly.
Copies of Jones' complaint against Lewis have been given to the Public Safety and Civil Service commissions, Lewis, the human resources director, Rinna and the City Council.
The Civil Service Commission placed Jones' complaint on file, which made it a public document.
"You have managed to disseminate the very same private information you accused the city of spreading," Tamsen wrote to Jones.
Tamsen told commission members at Wednesday's meeting that the letter is about harassment, so it is not that commission's responsibility.
It would instead be up to people including Rinna, leading up to the council and possibly civil litigation if it's not resolved, he said.
In his letter, Tamsen said the investigation about Jones also was unfounded.
After Jones was selected for an award, Lewis was told that there was an investigation. Lewis then told two Public Safety Commission members that it would be best to delay the presentation, Tamsen wrote.
"Mr. Lewis never discussed withdrawing the award from you, nor did he discuss or disseminate statements concerning the investigation," he wrote.
Tamsen's letter also said that within two weeks, the investigation was completed and Jones received the award. The same letter also notified Jones that by disseminating his complaint against Lewis, Jones violated the city's harassment policy.
"He has the right to have the complaint against him kept confidential," Tamsen wrote.
He also wrote that Jones was seen distributing the letter during normal working hours, which constitutes conducting personal business.
Retirement rumors swirl
Published: Wednesday, January 05, 2005
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — Negotiations are ongoing with the city's police and fire chiefs, and that has incited rumors for several weeks about Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
One is that he will retire by the end of this week.
"There's a rumor out there, but, as of right now, no, that is not true," City Administrator Anthony Rinna said.
Rinna said a meeting will be held today for negotiations with the chiefs' group, which includes Dobson, Fire Chief Martin DeLoach, Deputy Police Chief Dennis Gallow and Deputy Fire Chief Gary Jones.
No agreements have been reached yet.
"At this point, we're not even close," Rinna said Monday.
Dobson said yesterday morning that he had not yet spoken with anyone directly about the issue.
Over the past few years, Dobson has been the target of or mentioned in six lawsuits against the city.
In the fall, a federal jury awarded Officer Marcos Madrigal $4 million as a result of his allegations that Dobson discriminated against him because he is Mexican-American.
At issue in the current negotiations is that Dobson, as well as Gallow, joined the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan last year.
Eligible employees who joined the DROP program must retire within 36 months after they join, but their pension and benefit rates are frozen at the rate they were at the time employees joined the plan.
Rinna said the DROP program helps the city, because officials can set up a timetable for when those positions need to be replaced.
As the DROP participants continue working for those three years, they receive their pension, but it is sent into an account they do not have access to until they retire.
Dobson's three years will end in July 2006, but participants can retire earlier than the allotted time.
Although most benefits are frozen at their levels at the time of initiation, others are still negotiable, such as vacation and personal days, Rinna said.
A police and fire chiefs' resolution by the City Council has given them that right for many years, he said.
"They have some negotiating rights in that regard," Rinna said. "They always have."
At the same time, officials also are negotiating with the command officers' association, Rinna said, and one member of that unit is Inspector Carol Wozniak-Dobson, Dobson's wife.
"We're negotiating with the command right now, and his wife is a member of the police command unit," Rinna said. "We're negotiating with the unit as a whole, and she is just one member of that unit."
Dobson noted yesterday that the city is in a financial crisis and, therefore, is exploring a number of avenues to streamline operations, and the biggest impact on the budget is personnel costs.
"There's only so much money you can save by not buying paper and pencils," Dobson said.
One way to try to decrease personnel costs is through attrition, he said.
"I know that the city is exploring that," he said.
Rinna said city officials would like to finish negotiations as soon as possible, but bargaining with members of the Police Department can take many months.
According to state Act 312, if officers don't like the city's offer, they go to an arbitrator to ask for a ruling, Rinna said.
"The process can take anywhere from six months to 18 months, depending on how much arbitration is needed to settle the contracts," he said.
Top Story 2004: Lawsuit results in $4M judgment
Published: Wednesday, January 05, 2005
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — Problems in the Police Department slowly mounted over the past three years, recently resulting in a multimillion dollar judgment in a police officer's favor.
A jury awarded Officer Marcos Madrigal $4 million after he alleged that Police Chief Kenneth Dobson discriminated against him because he is Mexican-American.
The trial was held twice last year, requiring many current and former city officials and police officers to testify in the courtroom and during prior depositions.
The first trial in the spring ended with a hung jury, because a juror possibly knew Dobson before the trial.
The second was held in October, resulting in the judgment.
Throughout the three years the lawsuit was active, several officers and residents testified during interviews and a hearing before the city's Civil Service Commission.
As a result of that testimony, several of them said Dobson then harassed them as a form of retaliation. Some also alleged that he treated them unfairly in separate situations.
Inspector Michael Cameron, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones, Lt. Lori Sanford, Curtis McGuire Sr., Curtis McGuire Jr. and Cheryl Chuba also filed lawsuits.
Cameron's lawsuit was settled out of court last year, and Jones' lawsuit is in the appeals' process.
Sanford's case was resolved in November, with Sanford signing a confidentiality agreement
The McGuires' lawsuit is based on a time when the elder, a former member of the Public Safety Commission, was arrested during a City Council meeting.
At that meeting, he tried to publicly repeat the allegedly negative way that former Mayor Levon King described Dobson during a private conversation, but King said the elder McGuire was generally out of order and called for his arrest. He was not charged with anything in relation to the incident.
That day, the younger McGuire, a current commission member, and former police Cpl. James Riviera allegedly bumped into each other in the hallway, which also is described in the lawsuit.
Both say they are harassed in general.
In February, a trial will be held for Chuba's suit, which touches on problems involving several people and various situations.
Chuba, a former records clerk, has said that she had difficulties at work because she revealed information about a police vehicle auction that she says was handled improperly.
Her case involves Cpl. Robert Stites, the former city administrator, the police chief and the City Council as a whole, which she has said did nothing to help her. Her situation also involves entities outside the city, including a towing company.
After her allegations, the Michigan State Police began a lengthy investigation that involved interviews with many community members and city employees. No one was charged with any wrongdoing related to the auction.
Still, Chuba says, she has suffered retaliation.
Meanwhile, the city's insurance carrier is responsible for the judgment in the Madrigal case, and Dobson is still at work in the Police Department.
Agreement seals lawsuit, but more are on the way
Published: Wednesday, December 22, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — The signing of a confidentiality agreement has sealed a lawsuit filed by a police lieutenant against the city and Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
But even with Lt. Lori Sanford's lawsuit resolved, a few still linger.
Sanford's lawsuit alleged that she was subjected to harassment and retaliation because she provided information in a separate lawsuit brought by police Officer Marcos Madrigal against Dobson and the city.
Sanford, Dobson's ex-wife, also described unrelated incidents to back up her claims of retaliation.
Over the past few years, several people have filed lawsuits because of issues in the Police Department.
The only trial held so far was in Madrigal's case. He claimed he was discriminated against because he is Mexican-American, and a jury awarded him $4 million.
Inspector Michael Cameron's lawsuit was similar to Sanford's, although they both described different situations. Cameron's was settled out of court.
Detective Sgt. Larry Jones' suit is in the appeals process.
Curtis McGuire Sr. and Curtis McGuire Jr., former and current members of the city's Public Safety Commission, respectively, also are on the list. They describe incidents that occurred during a day when the elder McGuire was arrested during a City Council meeting for allegedly being disorderly, but he was not charged with anything.
The next suit that likely will make it to the trial stage in February is one filed by Cheryl Chuba, a former records clerk in the Police Department.
She alleges that city leaders violated the federal Whistleblowers' Protection Act after she provided information to authorities about a Police Department vehicle auction that she said did not follow proper rules.
She said the problems she encountered because of the alleged retaliation cost her a job she enjoyed because she felt that she had to request a transfer.
Public Act 78
Published: Wednesday, October 06, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — According to city policies, the fire chief's position is treated just like that of a first-year firefighter, and the police chief is treated just like a first-year patrol officer.
That makes it hard to manage police, fire, deputy police and deputy fire chiefs, city officials say.
That's because state Act 78 of 1935 is integrated into the city charter and governs hiring and firing.
But that could change now that the city is looking into amending the charter to treat those four people like other department heads.
Councilman Eric Waidelich said Act 78 allowed for the creation of the Fire and Police Civil Service Commission. When a police or fire chief is disciplined, for example, he can fight that decision by taking it to the commission. The commission can then override a City Council decision.
That happened earlier this year when the council suspended Police Chief Kenneth Dobson for three days because he allegedly touched another officer in order to guide him out of an office. Dobson argued before the commission, and it repealed his suspension.
Waidelich contends that the police and fire chiefs are not like other members of the Fire and Police departments.
They are managers, and as managers, they should be treated differently, he said.
The elected officials need some flexibility to manage those department heads, but Act 78 takes away from the council's ability to perform normal management duties, Waidelich said.
Act 78 sets the police and fire leaders apart from other department heads, like the heads of the Parks and Recreation Department and the Department of Public Service, he said
"We have to function with two different sets of rules because of 78," he said.
For now, the council has asked the city's attorneys to look into what would be required before those policies could be changed.
A resolution adopted at the council's Sept. 28 meeting says that hiring, promotional and disciplinary matters for the Fire and Police departments are governed by collective bargaining agreements and Act 78.
But Act 78 is inefficient and predates the use of bargaining agreements, the resolution says.
It resolves that by the next meeting, Tuesday, the attorneys will have determined what steps must be taken to repeal Act 78 and submit options regarding new processes for hiring, promotions and discipline.
At the very least, it would require a charter change, and that would require placing the issue before voters for their approval, Waidelich said.
Tollie Berryman, chairman of the commission, was not familiar with the council's decision to look into the matter.
"I'm sure the attorneys will work that out and let us know what their answer is," Berryman said, however.
He said Act 78 was set up to assure that there is no nepotism or favoritism, and in that regard, it serves its purpose.
Waidelich has stressed that what the city is working on now would only apply to those four positions, not to other civil service employees who also have rights under Act 78
The act became state law almost 70 years ago, Waidelich said.
"There's a difference in time," Berryman said.
Now the city has to get caught up with the modern age, Waidelich said.
Officers who testified see their cars vandalized
Published: Sunday, September 26, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — Vehicles belonging to three police officers who have been entangled in controversy have been vandalized since Sept. 18.
The vehicles belong to Officer Marcos Madrigal, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones and Lt. Lori Sanford.
The police reports on the incidents say nothing was seen or heard. Each incident is identified as "malicious destruction of property."
In a separate issue, three days before the damage began Sanford requested a personal protection order against Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
Sanford, who also is Dobson's ex-wife, is suing him for harassment and retaliation. She requested the personal protection order Sept. 15 in Wayne County Circuit Court.
A hearing on the PPO request is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday before Judge Kathleen Macdonald.
If the PPO is granted, it could affect whether or not Dobson can carry a gun and when he can do so, but the judge would have to make those decisions, said Joel Sklar, Sanford's attorney.
Sanford and Dobson were married from 1981 to 1988.
She has alleged that Dobson abused her while they were married and that he is abusive as a supervisor.
At a recent City Council meeting, Sanford said publicly that she is living in fear and asked for help from the elected officials.
Dobson recently lost a separate lawsuit brought by Madrigal, who alleged that Dobson harshly disciplined him because he is Mexican-American.
A jury awarded Madrigal $4 million this month.
Many employees were asked to provide information in the Madrigal matter, including Sanford, Jones and Inspector Michael Cameron.
Afterward, the three said Dobson retaliated against them, so they also sued him.
Jones' lawsuit is in the appeals process, Cameron's was settled out of court and Sanford's is pending.
Regarding the damage to vehicles, Madrigal's was the first to be vandalized.
A door on his vehicle was gouged in two places overnight Sept. 18 while it was parked outside his house in the city, according to the police report.
His vehicle also was damaged about a year ago when someone scratched a vulgar phrase onto it.
Jones' vehicle was damaged between noon and 4 p.m. Wednesday while it was in the parking lot at City Hall, 16850 Southfield.
He found an 8-inch crack on the top of the windshield on the passenger side of his vehicle, according to that report.
The third incident occurred between 1:30 and 7 p.m. Thursday, when a 3- to 4-inch scratch was made across the right rear fender of Sanford's car.
The car was in a fenced-in parking lot outside of the police station, where only authorized vehicles are allowed.
Published: Sunday, September 19, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — The police chief's former mother-in-law told the City Council Tuesday that if anything bad happens to her daughter, she would hold them responsible.
Geraldine Sanford's daughter, police Lt. Lori Sanford, said for the record that she is afraid of Chief Kenneth Dobson, who is her supervisor as well as her ex-husband.
Dobson recently lost a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by another police officer, Marcos Madrigal.
At Tuesday's meeting, several people reprimanded the current and former councils for their inaction, saying council members were the cause of a federal jury's $4 million award last week to Madrigal.
Because more litigation is pending and other cases could be appealed, the council said nothing.
Dobson was not at the meeting, but said later that it would be difficult for him to respond to residents' comments.
At the podium, Sanford said she watched Dobson's behavior deteriorate as she was married to him and that he abused her. She said she now is watching his behavior deteriorate as the police chief.
Sanford, who has her own lawsuit pending against Dobson because she said he harassed her for providing information in the Madrigal matter, said she wants help.
"I am afraid, and I am asking you to do something," she said.
Resident Sharon Milligan said she expressed concern in the past over the lack of action by the administration
She asked how council members could think that the lawsuits triggered by Dobson's alleged actions could all be wrong.
Although problems and rumors have floated around about Dobson for many years, the lawsuits started with Madrigal's complaint in 2001.
Madrigal alleged that Dobson unfairly disciplined him several times because he is Mexican-American.
After several people provided information in the matter, they said that Dobson retaliated against them.
Sanford, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones and Inspector Michael Cameron all then sued Dobson.
Cameron's suit was settled out of court. Jones' suit is under appeal and Sanford's is pending.
Father and son Curtis McGuire Sr., a former member of the Public Safety Commission, and Curtis McGuire Jr., a current member, most recently sued Dobson and the city.
Former records clerk Cheryl Chuba has sued both Dobson and the city for alleged retaliation because she provided information about a police vehicle auction that she said was handled inappropriately. That trial is scheduled to begin next year.
Tammy Jones, who works for the Department of Public Service and is Larry Jones' wife, said they, too, fear for their safety.
"Something has to be done," Jones said
"We've even tutored our kids 'Don't answer the door for uniformed police officers.' You don't teach kids that, but we felt the need to do that."
Dobson is power hungry and abuses power, she said.
"Not any one of you can get away with the things that man has gotten away with, nobody," Jones said.
"He's broken the law and gotten away with it, and he's still appointed as chief, for God's sake."
The resolution of the Madrigal case confirms what officers, employees, residents and commission members have told officials for years, Milligan said.
"You have now been told by an independent jury that the city of Allen Park has a serious problem," she said. "We absolutely don't need to see any more six-figure verdicts."
Cop wins $4M judgment against city
Published: Sunday, September 12, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — A jury awarded a police officer more than $4 million Wednesday after hearing allegations that Police Chief Kenneth Dobson discriminated against him because he is Mexican-American.
Marcos Madrigal, 38, alleged that he had been disciplined excessively and unfairly since he began working for the Police Department in 1997.
Through its insurance provider, the city will pay $3.1 million. Dobson owes $1 million in punitive damages that also will be covered by the city's insurance.
Covering testimony from a number of Police Department employees and city leaders, the trial was held for two weeks before U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow, who heard the case for the second time this year.
The same trial was held in the spring but ended in a hung jury.
The lawsuit by Marcos and Elsa Madrigal was submitted in 2001.
"It's a shame that the city forced Mr. and Mrs. Madrigal to go as far as they had to," said their attorney, Barry Seifman.
"It's a shame that the city failed to take corrective action years ago."
Madrigal thanks the jury and is appreciative of the people who came forward on his behalf and told the truth, Seifman said.
Dobson said the city still has to wait to see how everything unravels.
"I am obviously disappointed with the jury's decision," Dobson said. "As I understand it, the attorneys representing the city are going to appeal the decision."
If so, the case would be handled in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, he said.
Attorney Paul Pedersen, who represented the city and Dobson through its insurance provider, could not be reached for comment.
Allen Park Mayor Richard Huebler had little to say about any action city officials might take.
"The attorneys are reviewing our options and we'll go from there when they come back with some information for us," Huebler said.
The resolution of the lawsuit could affect other outstanding legal actions.
Since the Madrigal lawsuit began three years ago, several city employees and officers have testified in the matter, including before the city's Civil Service Commission in 2002.
As a result, several people said they believe Dobson retaliated against them and also have sued him.
A lawsuit by Inspector Michael Cameron was settled out of court. A lawsuit by Detective Sgt. Larry Jones was tossed out but now is under appeal.
Other pending lawsuits are one by Lt. Lori Sanford and one by residents Curtis McGuire Sr. and Curtis McGuire Jr., who have served on the city's Public Safety Commission.
A suit by former police records clerk Cheryl Chuba does not name Dobson but is related to the working conditions she said she faced.
Chuba said she had problems at work after she reported that an April 2002 police vehicle auction was handled inappropriately.
"Each case stands on its own," said Seifman, who also represents Jones and the McGuires.
Seifman said he hopes the city realizes its mistakes and handles the other complaints more appropriately, rather than forcing a trial in each instance. But, he said, his clients are prepared to do what they have to do.
Attorney Joel Sklar, who represents Chuba and Sanford, said he hopes the Madrigal verdict is a wake-up call for the city.
"I think it bodes well for all plaintiffs," Sklar said. "We're thrilled with it."
He said he now is looking forward to the beginning of the Chuba trial, which is scheduled for Feb. 15 before U.S. District Judge Cameron Steeh.
"I think the truth prevailed, and I think truth will (win) in these other cases as well," Sklar said.
New trial begins tomorrow
Published: Sunday, August 22, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- A new trial will begin tomorrow in a racial discrimination lawsuit that already has consumed the time of many current and former city officials and police officers.
The first trial in the lawsuit filed by Officer Marcos Madrigal against the city and Police Chief Kenneth Dobson ended in a hung jury this spring, when one of the jurors could not vote against Dobson.
The retrial in Detroit will begin with the selection of a different jury tomorrow before the same U.S. District Court judge, Arthur Tarnow.
The initial lawsuit was filed in 2001. Madrigal alleges that he was disciplined excessively and unfairly because he is Mexican-American.
The last trial involved discussion about each discipline and the issues surrounding it.
Those who testified then included Madrigal and his wife, Elsa, as well as Dobson and his wife, police Inspector Carol Wozniak-Dobson.
Others were Inspectors Dale Covert and Michael Cameron; Lts. Lori Sanford, Dean Tamsen and Mark Koller; retired Lt. Richard Curtis; Detective Sgt. Larry Jones; Cpl. Raymond Politz; patrol Officers Jeffrey Miller, Jeffrey Rimer and Sean Scott; Gary Dell, a member of the Public Safety Commission, and Curtis McGuire Sr., a former member; former Councilwoman Janine Brown Rossman; and former records clerk Cheryl Chuba.
The trial lasted about half a day for about three weeks.
Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- Curtis McGuire Sr. reminds everyone in the City Council chamber of what happened in 2003 almost every time he speaks during the citizens' comments part of a meeting.
He repeats that he was arrested at a March 2003 meeting as he tried to speak about former Mayor Levon King's alleged reference to Police Chief Kenneth Dobson as a "crook" and to a police auction and the city towing contract as "crooked."
Now, McGuire and his son, Curtis McGuire Jr., have sued the city, Mayor Richard Huebler, King and Dobson for "false imprisonment" and for related and unrelated harassment.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court because the McGuires allege violations of the First and Fourteenth amendments, making it a federal issue. It also alleges filing of false claims, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The suit touches on two other pending lawsuits.
One is Officer Marcos Madrigal's racial discrimination suit against Dobson.
The McGuires' complaint says that McGuire Sr. testified that Dobson described Madrigal as a Mexican. The suit alleges that McGuire was harassed as a result of his testimony.
The McGuire suit also alludes to a lawsuit by former police records clerk Cheryl Chuba against the city.
Chuba alleges that she was retaliated against after questioning the city's towing practices and providing information about an April 2002 auction that she said was handled improperly.
The McGuire suit says that in January 2003 McGuire Sr. was present when the former mayor said, "Dobson is a crook and the police auction was crooked."
In an affidavit, McGuire also said that "King stated the city's towing bills and contract were also crooked and that he had records," the lawsuit reads.
Dozens of individuals were interviewed about two years ago because of the auction, but the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said no one intentionally did anything wrong.
The people involved were cleared because there was insufficient evidence to show that they knew that a 1993 Ford Probe that was scrapped for $50 could have been sold for about $800.
Anthony Vizachero, a former member of the Public Safety Commission, was in charge of the auction. He had contacted his son, Greg, to see if he was interested in any of the cars that were being scrapped.
Greg Vizachero then bought the Probe and another car for $50 each.
The Vizacheros own and operate several automobile repair shops Downriver.
Even though the decision was that Dobson, Cpl. Robert Stites and Vizachero did not intentionally do anything wrong, many people did not accept it.
McGuire Sr. was arrested at a March 11, 2003, council meeting while he tried to discuss the things that King had said related to Dobson and the auction.
At that meeting, King told McGuire that his time to speak had expired and asked for his arrest.
The lawsuit notes that about 10 police officers attended that meeting, which is said to be unusual. It claims that either Dobson or King was prepared to arrest him.
After the arrest, the Police Department sought to prosecute McGuire, but the prosecutor's office denied the warrant request, according to the lawsuit.
As McGuire Jr. and former Cpl. James Riviera each videotaped McGuire Sr.'s arrest, they somehow bumped into each other.
For that, McGuire Jr. was charged with assault and battery of a police officer, according to the suit, but he was later cleared.
The lawsuit alleges that trying to charge McGuire Jr. with assault and battery was a form of retaliation against both McGuires.
They are seeking more than $150,000 in damages.
Attorney Michael Weaver, who represents the city through its insurance provider, said Monday that he had not had time yet to study the complaint and preferred not to comment.
King, Huebler and Dobson could not be reached or declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Court dismisses harassment lawsuit
Published: Sunday, July 11, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK — Detective Sgt. Larry Jones' harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Police Chief Kenneth Dobson has been thrown out of federal court.
Attorney Paul Pedersen, who represents the city through its insurance provider, said the suit was thrown out because it had no merit.
Pedersen said that as he understands a federal judge's 25-page opinion, the conclusion was that Dobson took no adverse employment action against Jones.
"In a nutshell, that's what it is," Pedersen said.
Jones sued Dobson and the city in February 2003, alleging civil rights and Whistleblower Act violations.
Although U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland dismissed the case July 1, the city will be required to pay some of the costs for Jones' attorney fees and costs for "re-depositions."
The judge said attorneys representing the city interfered with the questioning of some witnesses, so they were questioned again. As a result, the city will have to pay the costs for both depositions.
Jones' attorney, Raymond Guzall, said he did not know yet if they would appeal the judge's overall decision.
The dismissal of the case means that the number of lawsuits against the chief is dwindling, and, for the most part, the chief has come out on the winning end.
"He has been proven to be correct so far, especially as far as Larry Jones is concerned," Pedersen said.
Beginning in September 2001, Officer Marcos Madrigal sued Dobson because he said Dobson discriminated against him because is Mexican-American.
A trial was held this spring, but ended with a hung jury when only six of seven jurors supported Madrigal. The retrial is scheduled to begin Aug. 23.
Along the way, however, bits and pieces of Madrigal's allegations were dismissed, essentially vindicating Dobson.
For example, at one point, Dobson accused Madrigal of lying to the Civil Service Commission. After a hearing was held, the commission members resolved that Madrigal did lie to them.
Insp. Michael Cameron, Jones and Lt. Lori Sanford later sued Dobson and the city as well, saying that he retaliated against them partially because of the information they provided in the Madrigal matter.
They also list unrelated examples of alleged harassment.
Jones' lawsuit, for example, also refers to a stabbing incident in 2002. Dobson said Jones mishandled the investigation, but Jones regarded that as harassment.
The Cameron lawsuit was settled out of court before the Madrigal trial, and now that the Jones case has been thrown out, only the Madrigal and Sanford cases remain unsettled.
Officers question validity of commission hearing
Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2004
The News Herald
ALLEN PARK — Two members of the Police Department questioned the validity of a hearing where their police chief's suspension was dropped.
Chief Kenneth Dobson had been suspended by the City Council for allegedly pushing an officer while removing a sketch from an office wall. The suspension was nullified last week by the city's Fire and Police Civil Service Commission.
Insp. Michael Cameron, who had the sketch in his office, and Officer Allen David, who Dobson allegedly pushed out of that office, said they had doubts about last week's commission hearing prior to the event.
One of the three members of the commission should not have participated, Cameron and David said.
James Kelly was a city officer for 25 years and is Dobson's friend, they wrote in a letter to the commission before the hearing.
Kelly describes Dobson as his friend, but Dobson has said they are acquaintances, they wrote.
"The fact that Ken Dobson and Jim Kelly are lifelong friends is reason enough for his exclusion from the commission during the Dobson hearing," they wrote.
David and Cameron — who saw Dobson touch David's shoulders in February before Dobson took the sketch off the office wall — also said they had a problem with Attorney David Tamsen's participation.
As the city attorney, Tamsen sometimes is called on to represent Dobson as the chief. In this case, Tamsen represented the city for suspending the chief.
"Because the city attorneys have represented Ken Dobson on hundreds of matters in the past, their involvement creates a conflict of interest," they wrote.
"Clearly an unbiased outside attorney should handle this matter for the city, if for no other reason than to avoid the perception of a sham hearing."
Attorneys who participated in the hearing and the commissioners briefly discussed the letter before they started the hearing.
When asked, Kelly said he could judge fairly.
Not one of the attorneys or commissioners, regardless of whose side he was on, said he had a problem with allowing Kelly to sit on the board.
After listening to testimony Tuesday, the commissioners unanimously agreed to drop the three-day suspension.
Dobson took the wall hanging when the artist who drew the sketch asked for its return and Cameron would not hand it over. The sketch had been drawn about 30 years ago.
Commission reverses ruling against chief
Published: Sunday, June 20, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- Even when Police Chief Kenneth Dobson did get into trouble with the City Council, he got right back out of it -- and fast.
The Fire and Police Civil Service Commission reversed a decision by the council to suspend Dobson for three days after a patrolman alleged that Dobson had shoved him.
The issue is based on a day when Dobson took a sketch off a wall of an office at the police station. As he did, Dobson touched a patrolman in the office.
The question involves the level of touching.
At Tuesday's hearing before the commission where several employees testified, Dobson said he only placed his hands on Officer Allen David's shoulders.
But David and Insp. Michael Cameron said Dobson spun him around and pushed, shoved or threw him out of the office.
Prior to the hearing, the City Council reviewed several allegations stemming from that day.
On April 27, it found that none were true except that Dobson touched David without his consent, even though the council said the touch was not extreme.
Dobson received a three-day suspension, which he fought through Tuesday's commission hearing.
In an issue that is technically unrelated, Cameron had sued Dobson for harassment and retaliation, but recently settled for $5,000. At the time of the touching incident, the lawsuit was still active.
This incident started with a sketch of a courtroom setting that resident Karl Rossman made when he was in high school nearly 30 years ago.
It had switched hands over the years until it ended up on a wall in a shift command office at the police station. Rossman recently told Mayor Richard Huebler that he wanted it back.
Huebler later told Deputy Chief Dennis Gallow about that. According to testimony from several employees, Gallow went into Cameron's office on Feb. 9 and told Cameron that information.
Cameron refused to give up the sketch, saying it was his property.
Meanwhile, Officer Daniel Mack sat in a nearby complaint room. Mack said he saw Gallow pass by the door of the complaint room as he walked from Cameron's office to Dobson's.
Gallow told Dobson about Cameron's refusal, so Dobson told him to try again.
Moments later, Mack saw Gallow pass by the doorway again as he headed to Cameron's office.
Cameron again refused to give up the sketch, so Gallow walked past Mack to Dobson's office a second time. Dobson said Gallow then told him that Cameron said he wouldn't give up the picture unless the order was in writing.
Moments later, Mack saw Gallow pass by a third time, but as he walked to Cameron's office this time, Dobson was with him.
What happened then is what has been debated.
At Cameron's request, David tried to take a picture of the sketch on the wall. Cameron testified that he wanted proof of what happened.
According to Cameron and David, as David held the camera to his eye, Dobson walked in, said, "Oh no," grabbed his shoulders, spun him around and shoved him toward the door.
Cameron and David said he was pushed about 10 feet, and that David stumbled as a result of the push.
As he reached the door, David turned back around to face the inside of the room, only to hear Gallow tell him to leave. So he did.
According to Cameron, Dobson then took the picture off the wall and left, but Mack said he heard Dobson ask for the sketch.
At that point, Mack saw Dobson walk past the complaint room again, but this time carrying the sketch.
For the most part, Mack had a half-smile on his face as he told the story. As a bystander, he thought it was humorous, he said.
But Cameron said he was shaken up by the violence.
According to Dobson, the incident involved more talk and less force.
Dobson said that when he walked into the office, he did not see that David had a camera.
Dobson asked him to leave so that he could talk with Cameron. Dobson said he didn't think David heard him, so he touched his shoulders. As he did so, he saw the camera.
Dobson said he told David that he didn't need to do that, and that he also told Cameron that the picture wasn't necessary because he would stipulate that the sketch hung on the wall.
Dobson said he told Cameron to give him the sketch, but Cameron would not.
Dobson said he told Cameron that he didn't know who it legally belonged to, but was confident that it did not belong to Cameron.
Dobson then took it off the wall, and Cameron said he would file a complaint. Dobson said he told Cameron to add it to his lawsuit.
The hearing touched on other issues, such as legal definitions and how much Cameron encouraged David to complain. But in the end, those things meant little to the three commissioners.
James Kelly said if Cameron had turned over the picture to begin with, they wouldn't have been there.
Tollie Berryman said the council said the touch was not extreme. City Attorney David Tamsen said that to rule against Dobson, they must conclude that he overexerted pressure.
James Kenzie said he equates this to making a mountain out of a molehill. He also said that, in order for Dobson to have shoved David that far, he would have needed to use even more force than Cameron and David claimed.
They dropped Dobson's suspension immediately.
Chief fights suspension
Published: Wednesday, June 16, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- What began as something that one witness referred to as humorous led to a Fire and Police Civil Service Commission hearing yesterday.
Several witnesses testified before the three-member body about a Feb. 9 incident in which Police Chief Kenneth Dobson touched a patrolman while the officer was taking a sketch off a wall in an office.
Although Dobson denies it, the action has been described as a push or a shove, for which Dobson recently received a three-day suspension.
Dobson now is fighting that suspension, which is why the Civil Service Commission hearing was held.
Witnesses testified through the morning and early afternoon, but testimony from some witnesses was not available by press time yesterday.
The issue started with a sketch that resident Karl Rossman made when he was in high school, which was about 20 years ago.
The sketch of a courtroom setting switched hands over the years until it ended up hanging in a shift command office at the police station.
During a casual conversation with Mayor Richard Huebler, Rossman said he wanted the sketch back.
Huebler told Deputy Chief Dennis Gallow to get it back.Gallow relayed the information to Insp. Michael Cameron, but Cameron refused to give it back, saying it was his.
That day, Cameron asked Officer Allen David to take a picture of the sketch on the wall.
As David was doing so, Dobson came into the room and touched David in order to get him out of the room.
Dobson then took the sketch off the wall and left the room.
Yesterday morning, Cameron, David and Officer Daniel Mack, who overheard part of the conversation, testified about what they saw and heard.
Dobson and Gallow were to testify in the afternoon
Officials question police payout
Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2004
ALLEN PARK -- A retired police officer has been paid $525 because he appeared in court last month to testify in a lawsuit against Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
City Administrator Anthony Rinna said the City Council had some reservations about the reimbursement and that he, too, questioned it.
But after talking with a city attorney, Rinna learned that it is past practice to pay retirees for their time in this situation.
Rinna said that retired Detective Lt. Richard Curtis was in court on behalf of the city, but that even if he were called to testify against the city, he still could have been eligible for the pay.
The policy of the department has always been that any retiree who is called back to testify in a court case would receive the rate of pay that they did when they retired, he said.
Rinna said that when the information related to the reimbursement of Curtis came to his desk, he questioned it and asked one of the city attorneys about it.
"I know it sounds peculiar," Rinna said, but added a police officer's responsibilities can stay with him even after retirement.
Retirees are protected by the contracts that were in place when they were active employees, he said.
Still, city officials are in the process of reviewing the policy, he said.
Published: Sunday, May 02, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- Police Chief Kenneth Dobson was given a three-day suspension last week because he allegedly pushed another officer.
The degree of touching can be debated, but, regardless, touching someone in a heated moment is not something a supervisor should have done, Mayor Richard Huebler said.
The City Council met in executive session at the end of Tuesday's council meeting to discuss a related harassment complaint.
Hours later, the council reconvened in an open session and voted on a "very complicated resolution" that took a few days to finalize, the mayor said.
Huebler said Dobson was not suspended last week but took a few leave days.
The unpaid suspension begins May 10.
When the incident first occurred, Dobson said he resented the allegation that the way he touched Officer Allen David was a push or a shove.
According to different sources, the incident started over a sketch of a courtroom setting that a resident drew when he was in high school in the 1970s.
The sketch switched hands over the years and ended up hanging for eight years in an office in the police station that Insp. Michael Cameron uses.
In a recent conversation with the mayor, the resident said he wanted it back.
Huebler happened to pass by Deputy Chief Dennis Gallow shortly afterward and told him about that.
After Gallow told Cameron that the original owner wanted the sketch back, Cameron at first refused.
At one point, David was in the process of taking a picture of the sketch on the wall while Cameron was in the office, but Dobson stopped him.
He touched David to guide him out of the room and took the painting.
At an unrelated trial last month over alleged racial discrimination, Cameron talked about that incident as an example of harassment in the department.
Cameron had sued Dobson because he says he was harassed after he testified in a lawsuit involving Officer Marcos Madrigal case in hearings, but the lawsuit was settled before the Madrigal trial.
On the stand, Cameron said Dobson threw David out of the office, grabbed the picture off the wall and then told Cameron that he could add that to his lawsuit.
An attorney who represented Madrigal described what Dobson did as "manhandling" and said it was an example of how out of control Dobson is.
Several allegations related to the sketch incident were made, but the only one that was substantiated was that Dobson touched David, according to the resolution.
It says that Cameron's complaints about Dobson and David's allegation of "extreme physical contact" were unsubstantiated.
Gallow is not in trouble at all; he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, Huebler said.
Civil rights case ends in hung jury
Published: Sunday, April 25, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
DETROIT -- A civil rights trial that consumed the Allen Park Police Department will have to go back to square one.
Out of eight jurors, seven agreed with Officer Marcos Madrigal, who says Chief Kenneth Dobson discriminated against him because he is Mexican-American.
One woman did not agree.
Because attorneys who represented the city insisted on a unanimous decision, the trial ended Thursday with a hung jury.
With a fresh jury, the trial will start over before the same U.S. District Court judge, Arthur Tarnow.
The jury had deliberated for a week after hearing testimony from several officers and experts this month.
Paul Pedersen, who represented Dobson and the city, said they would not accept a split decision because both parties agreed not to in the beginning.
"That was the decision we made," Pedersen said.
Barry Seifman and Raymond Guzall, who represented Madrigal, stressed the fact that seven jurors were in their favor.
"Seven out of eight would have absolutely murdered the city and Dobson," Seifman said. "I hope somebody wakes up out there. Obviously they're going to have to get hit heavy in order to do that."
Guzall said this trial has been very tough for Madrigal, one of four employees who is suing the city.
Generally, the employees say Dobson harasses certain employees if he happens to have a problem with them.
A fifth lawsuit was settled out of court shortly before the Madrigal trial began.
For each of those employees, a lawsuit was the absolute last resort, Guzall said.
Among other avenues, Madrigal had sought help from the City Council, he said.
"He did everything he possibly could, and nobody did anything," Guzall said.
Nobody wants the trial to start over again, he said.
"It hasn't changed our resolve at all," Guzall said. "The truth came out and seven jurors agreed as to the truth being in favor of Marcos, so I don't see any difficulties in moving forward in another trial and prevailing."
Officer's trial nears end
Published: Sunday, April 18, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
DETROIT -- A federal jury prepared to deliberate Friday in a lawsuit in which a Downriver police officer alleges racial discrimination.
Allen Park Officer Marcos Madrigal's lawsuit alleges that Police Chief Kenneth Dobson discriminated against him when handing out discipline.
Dobson said he and other command officers were following rules of progressive discipline.
Dobson also said he doesn't remember referring to Madrigal as a Mexican from Ecorse whom the city never should have hired, though several people have said he did.
Madrigal said he is under a microscope for every wrong move he makes, including similar actions to other officers that didn't get them in trouble.
Through witnesses and attorneys Barry Seifman and Raymond Guzall, Madrigal presented his case first before U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow.
Attorneys representing the city -- Paul Pedersen and S. Randall Field -- had their say later last week by questioning witnesses.
In his closing arguments Friday, Seifman reminded the jury that two people who have held posts as members of Allen Park's Public Safety Commission -- Curtis McGuire Sr. and Gary Dell -- said they heard Dobson make the "Mexican" comment.
People including Dell, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones, Cpl. Raymond Politz, Insp. Michael Cameron, Lt. Lori Sanford and former police employee Cheryl Chuba said they have been harassed for providing information in the past that supported Madrigal's claims.
Based on former Councilwoman Janine Rossman's testimony, city leaders knew Madrigal said he was treated unfairly but did nothing, Seifman said.
A key issue in the case involves Madrigal's arrest in 2000 for alleged violence during an argument with his wife. Jones, Sanford and Politz said there was no probable cause to arrest Madrigal for the incident.
There was no reason for the arrest, Seifman said, "unless your name is Madrigal and Chief Dobson is your boss."
Dobson appeared to want to "disown" responsibility for disciplining Madrigal, but Dobson had signed every order, Seifman said.
Elsa Madrigal testified that she did not want police to come to her house after she called them, but Seifman said she was told she would be accused of making a false report if she didn't make a statement.
"(Madrigal's) reputation has been ruined; he's trapped," the attorney said. "He still doesn't sleep at night. He's had six years of living hell."
But during closing arguments and testimony, several people said Madrigal made mistakes and that Dobson was not solely responsible for the discipline.
Regarding his suspension for the 2000 domestic dispute, Madrigal got into trouble for improperly parking his patrol car when he went home and not calling the station to say he would be out of service.
Attorneys are debating whether the way Madrigal touched his wife during their argument was violent.
Insp. Carol Wozniak-Dobson, the chief's wife, said she might classify what Madrigal did at one point as fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and what he did at another point as assault and battery.
Curtis said there was probable cause to arrest.
When the incident was taken to a prosecutor, Curtis told the prosecutor that Madrigal would lose his job if he were to be charged. He said it would be handled internally, so the prosecutor reluctantly agreed not to proceed, Curtis said.
Sanford testified that she heard Dobson give the go-ahead for the arrest.
"To the best of my recollection, I did not give the go-ahead, and I arrived in the station after Mr. Madrigal was arrested," Dobson countered.
Dobson said he was at City Hall when Insp. Dale Covert came to tell him that he believed Madrigal was about to be arrested.
However, when Covert took the stand, he said it was Dobson's decision to arrest Madrigal.
But Wozniak-Dobson said the decision came from her and Covert.
Dobson has been scrutinized for ordering Madrigal not to contact his wife after he was released, but Dobson said that's what his wife told detectives she wanted.
When he was deputy chief, Dobson recommended hiring Madrigal in 1997, but Madrigal was suspended for the first time three months later.
Madrigal was suspended for two days for coming to work early one day, which Dobson said was not following orders.
Also factored into that suspension was that Madrigal said his supervising field-training officer lied and was immature.
The second suspension was in January 1999, when he did not count one prisoner during a cell check one night. Madrigal contended that other people have made mistakes on checks, but hardly anyone else is disciplined for it.
Dobson agreed with Madrigal's point that the officer in charge was responsible for the cell checks that night, but the chief said that officer was reprimanded.
That officer was not suspended, but has been in the department for 27 years and never disciplined before.
But Dobson said there was more to that story and that Madrigal made two mistakes during that shift.
The second mistake, Dobson said, was when a man called the station at 6:40 a.m. because his cellphone had been stolen.
Instead of sending out a car like Dobson said he was supposed to, Madrigal told him to come in at 8 a.m.
When determining the penalty for what amounted to only one discipline, supervisors considered both mistakes, Dobson said.
Dobson shed more light on the third suspension as well, which was in October 1999.
Madrigal said he was unfairly targeted for using a mobile data terminal to communicate with an Ecorse officer who had ticketed his sister.
Madrigal said officers communicate all the time, often for personal reasons.
But Dobson said the officer told him that Madrigal threatened him.
Dobson said Madrigal told the officer that what goes around comes around and said: "I put the word out on your little girl."
Further, Dobson said Madrigal, without telling supervisors, left the city to meet with Ecorse officers, which factored into the third suspension.
While Seifman classified the reason for the fifth disciplinary action as Madrigal's misuse of sick time, Dobson insisted that it was for "feigning illness" around Thanksgiving 2000.
Lt. Dean Tamsen told Dobson about the problem, for which Madrigal was suspended for 90 days.
For two days after Thanksgiving, Madrigal called off sick and went to a hockey tournament in Cleveland, where Madrigal said he still was sick.
Seifman stressed that a doctor recommended that the officer take time off for that illness. But Pedersen said Madrigal went to the doctor only after he returned from the tournament because he got wind that he might have gotten caught.
Field asked Tamsen if any officer has anything to fear from Dobson if they do their job competently.
"Not that I'm aware of," Tamsen said.
Several people talked about alleged retaliation they have faced and about a negative atmosphere at the police station.
Still, no one has been treated like Madrigal has been, Cameron said.
When asked if he believes Madrigal is targeted, Cameron said: "He is. There is no doubt in my mind."
Officer's discrimination case continues
Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
DETROIT -- Officer Marcos Madrigal has been suspended six times in the five years he has worked for the Allen Park Police Department.
Now, a jury will decide if the suspensions were the result of discrimination or because Madrigal merited the suspensions.
Madrigal, 38, says Police Chief Kenneth Dobson has targeted him because he is Mexican-American.
Attorneys representing Dobson say Madrigal is trying to blame someone else for his own failures.
They also argue about the significance of Dobson's role in the disciplines, saying other officers recommend courses of action to Dobson.
They say the disciplines also are based on conduct unbecoming an officer.
Several people testified this month before U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow in the suit against Dobson.
Other officers have talked about how Dobson allegedly treated Madrigal unfairly and how Dobson then retaliated against officers when they spoke against the chief in related hearings.
Though the exact wording differs depending on who is asked, Dobson allegedly described Madrigal as a Mexican from Ecorse who never should have been hired by his department.
Dobson said he does not recall saying that, and Madrigal also said Dobson never said anything derogatory directly to him
The officer told his story Thursday, Friday and Monday and answered questions from Paul Pedersen, attorney for the city and Dobson.
Madrigal was involved in a race-related issue in the Ecorse Police Department before he came to Allen Park.
After he was hired, the council decided it had too many Hispanic-Americans and not enough African-Americans, he said.
He fought that, got his job back and kept it for four years before moving to Allen Park and becoming the first Mexican officer in that city.
He started Nov. 6, 1997, and was first disciplined within three months.
Discipline No. 1
He was suspended for two days for failing to report for duty on time, but he said the scheduling was a misunderstanding.
He said his supervisor told him to report at 4 or 8 p.m., and he chose 4 p.m.
The next day, he was summoned into an office.
Before he walked into that room, then-police Chief Leo Lanctot told him to accept the discipline he was given because Dobson, then the deputy, wanted to fire him.
Madrigal later wrote a letter to city officials to explain the misunderstanding.
Discipline No. 2
On Jan. 18, 1999, Madrigal was working as a dispatcher during the midnight shift.
An officer is supposed to check on prisoners every hour. Attorneys are debating who ultimately was responsible for it that day.
Two prisoners were in cells, but Madrigal did not account for one for eight hours.
He said since he was working dispatch, the officer in charge was more responsible for the checks anyway.
Pedersen implied that Madrigal should have checked the log of the person who worked before him.
As a result, he received a five-day suspension. Many people have goofed up on checks, but no one else has been disciplined for it, Madrigal said.
It was then that the officer said he started to question Dobson's treatment.
"It's very clear to me this man has an issue with me," Madrigal said
Disciplinary documents that Madrigal signed along the way said that further violation of rules can result in discharge, Pedersen said.
Discipline No. 3
Officers use a mobile data terminal to communicate with other departments all the time, including for personal issues, Madrigal said.
One day, Madrigal's sister received a traffic ticket, and he used the unit to communicate with the officer who issued the ticket.
Madrigal said he told the other officer that it would have been courteous of him to tell him about the ticket.
In that communication, Madrigal said that what goes around comes around.
He said he never threatened the officer, but Pedersen asked Madrigal if he made this statement in the communication: "I put the word out on your little girl."
Madrigal said if he did, it's humorous.
He was suspended for one day for the communication.
Discipline No. 4
During the time of his fourth problem, Madrigal and his wife, Elsa Madrigal, had been separated and he had moved out of the house.
He visited home one day near lunchtime but did not call the station to let anyone know he would be on an errand for a while.
He got into an argument with his wife that involved him pushing her out of his way so he could leave.
During the visit, he touched her, but attorneys are debating if any of it was violent.
Elsa Madrigal, who has sat beside her husband of 15 years during the trial, said she was not afraid of him, that he never hit her before and that she did not want to press charges.
At 4 p.m. that day, he was asked to walk into an office where several high-ranking officers waited for him.
Insp. Carol Wozniak-Dobson, the chief's wife, asked about the argument and told Insp. Dale Covert to arrest Madrigal for domestic violence.
"I was in total shock," Madrigal said. "My whole world (came) crashing down on me."
As he was arresting him, Covert was very emotional, so Madrigal wound up booking himself, he said.
Wearing a T-shirt and shorts, he was placed in a cell for 20 hours, which was the first chance he had to talk with a union leader.
No one ever read him any of his rights, he said.
Dobson asked Madrigal if he wanted to go to another agency because of the embarrassment, but Madrigal said he did nothing wrong.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office denied a warrant request, so he was not charged with any crime.
Madrigal was suspended for 30 days for that day's incidents, including leaving his weapon in his car, doing personal business on work time and not letting anyone know he stopped at home.
Witnesses said it is unusual to arrest someone for a domestic dispute hours after the fact, but Pedersen said if a suspect leaves a scene, officers are supposed to try to find him.
Discipline No. 5
During Thanksgiving 2000, Madrigal was scheduled to work the midnight shift.
Instead, he called off sick and attended his son's hockey tournament in Cleveland.
Madrigal said he was still sick during the weekend trip. But Dobson later gave him a 90-day suspension for misusing sick time.
Pedersen said city policy says an abuse of sick time can result in discharge.
Discipline No. 6
Madrigal testified before the Police and Fire Civil Service Commission in relation to the sick time.
He told the board he did not attend an unrelated Detroit Red Wings game during that period of time.
But a friend later told Dobson that he did go to the game, so he charged Madrigal with lying under oath.
Madrigal stayed out of work for about another year until the commission decided that he did lie but then gave him his job back.
After Madrigal returned to work in December 2002, he says the poor treatment of him continued. Those issues have been described in detail at the trial as well.
(See the Sunday News-Herald for a story on Police Chief Kenneth Dobson's testimony.)
Officers testify in discrimination suit against chief
Published: Sunday, April 11, 2004
DETROIT -- Allen Park Police Chief Kenneth Dobson sat quietly in the corner of a federal courtroom as he listened to officers talk about allegations against him.
A trial in which an officer has accused the chief of racial discrimination began last week before U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow.
Officer Marcos Madrigal, 38, says Dobson discriminated against him because he is Mexican-American.
Madrigal is the first and only Hispanic officer in the department.
Since Madrigal sued Dobson in 2001, many people have been questioned in depositions, and Civil Service Commission hearings have laid a foundation for some arguments.
Attorneys representing Dobson and the city through an insurance carrier are Paul Pedersen and S. Randall Field. Arguing on behalf of Madrigal are Raymond Guzall and Barry Seifman.
The first people to testify before the jury were Gary Dell, Public Safety Commission member; Detective Sgt. Larry Jones; former Councilwoman Janine Rossman; Cpl. Raymond Politz; and Guy Hostetler, vocational counselor.
Witnesses were asked to describe similar events from their points of view.
Officers are responsible for inspecting cells in the police station every hour on the hour and keeping a log.
They check the number of prisoners and make sure everything is OK.
They make sure that shoelaces, belts, drawstrings from pants and other items that create a suicide hazard are out of reach.
Madrigal was suspended for five days because he neglected to count one prisoner one day, Jones said.
Other people possibly responsible for the mistake, including the officer on the shift prior to Madrigal's and the supervising officers during his shift, were not disciplined, Jones said.
Pedersen stressed that Madrigal essentially had not accounted for a whole prisoner for eight hours.
Jones and Politz said many mistakes have been made in the past, but most people are not disciplined.
Insp. Carol Wozniak-Dobson, the chief's wife, for example, once wrote that one prisoner was in a cell when in fact there were no prisoners there at the time, Jones and Politz said, and she was not disciplined.
Jones said he once looked through cell check logs of two or three years and found at least 30 mistakes.
When Pedersen asked him if he told Dobson about the mistakes, Jones said he makes it a point to be professional but does not "volunteer" anything to Dobson.
A revised cell check policy was sent down from the chief's office after the incident involving Madrigal, and it was tailored more to the issue that Madrigal violated, Jones said.
In recent history, several officers have been involved in alleged domestic violence that later became common knowledge.
Jones and Politz named other such officers and described the incidents, but said the only officer ever arrested for it is Madrigal.
He was arrested three or four hours after an officer went to Madrigal's house to talk with his wife of soon-to-be 15 years, Elsa Madrigal.
Officers saw bruises on her arms, possibly where he grabbed her to push her out of his way during their quarrel, but Jones said he would not really classify the bruises as signs of abuse.
Elsa Madrigal had told police that she did not want to press charges against her husband, that she was not afraid of him and that he never hit her before.
Jones and Politz said they've never arrested anyone for a domestic dispute three or four hours later.
Partially depending on the severity of any injuries, they instead would arrest someone right away, write a report and drop the issue or write a report and forward it to detectives, they said.
Madrigal should not have been arrested, they said.
But with prodding from Dobson's attorneys, Politz said that a related policy says that the wishes of either party in a domestic case should not be a factor in whether or not one of them is arrested.
This incident was the fourth time that Madrigal, who has worked in the department for five years, had been in trouble. Because of issues surrounding it, he was suspended for 30 days.
Two or three years ago, Madrigal told Rossman that although he admits to making mistakes, he still felt like he was getting picked on, she said.
Saying the chief was open-minded, she told Madrigal to talk with Dobson about his concerns over a cup of coffee.
Madrigal told her he couldn't do that and that he was starting to feel like it was a "minority" issue.
She advised him to follow the chain of command to try to resolve the issue and to talk with former City Administrator Kevin Welch.
Rossman later told Welch what Madrigal had said to her, but she does not know if Welch did anything.
A key issue that has come up repeatedly over the years and during hearings is how Dobson allegedly described Madrigal.
"I've heard him refer to him as 'that Mexican officer,'" Jones said.
Others have added the words "from Ecorse" to the end of that statement. The only word in common when different people tell the story is "Mexican."
Jones said he didn't think the comment was derogatory when it was made.
Still, Madrigal is singled out in everything he does and is given the maximum discipline, Jones said.
Politz said he would seriously doubt that Madrigal would receive a promotion in the department.
"I don't think (Dobson) will allow it," Politz said.
But as prodded by Pedersen, Politz later said Dobson has no role in the advancement procedure, according to the system.
Because of these matters, Madrigal had been suspended for 21 months, through August 2002.
During his suspension, Madrigal was barred from the restricted areas of the police station, even though he was still on the payroll, Politz said.
That's never happened to another officer, Politz said.
The letter from Dobson that barred him also told officers that Madrigal should be treated with respect and should be given the rights of any "citizen."
Madrigal says his unfair treatment continued after he returned to work.
Politz and Jones, who has his own lawsuit against Dobson and the city, also describe in detail incidents where they say Dobson retaliated against them as a result of the Madrigal issue.
Hostetler said that Madrigal would have trouble obtaining a job at another police department because in the law enforcement field, word gets around and he has been branded as a problem employee.
Field brought out the fact that Madrigal had a problem when he worked in the Ecorse Police Department before he worked in Allen Park.
Given Hostetler's views, that would make the city open-minded in the fact that it hired him, Field said.
(Madrigal was among the final people to take the stand late last week. Read what he had to say in The Wednesday News-Herald.)
One police suit settled; four ongoing
Published: Wednesday, April 07, 2004
By Lena Khzouz, The News-Herald
ALLEN PARK -- One down, four to go.
A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit by police Inspector Michael Cameron against the city and its police chief that alleged harassment and retaliation.
Cameron confirmed the settlement Monday but did not elaborate.
"I can't discuss it," he said. "There's a confidentiality agreement signed by all parties."
According to the office of U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow, the case technically was still open Monday.
Cameron's attorney, Joel Sklar, also would not talk about it.
Cameron said that though his litigation has ended, problems remain.
"I feel relieved that it's over, but things continue on," Cameron said. "There's been no change."
At least one reason for that may be linked to the fact that a trial in a related lawsuit before the same judge was set to begin this week.
A lawsuit by Officer Marcos Madrigal, a Mexican-American, against Police Chief Kenneth Dobson and the city alleges that Dobson discriminated against him.
That especially relates to decisions by Dobson regarding discipline of Madrigal in 2000.
Comparing his actions with those of other officers in the past, Madrigal said the discipline was harsh. He attributes that to racial discrimination, the issue that sent to lawsuit to federal court.
The lawsuit has been pending since 2001. Since then, attorneys on both sides have asked many city employees and officers to provide information.
Several employees testified in a hearing before the city's Police and Fire Civil Service Commission in the summer of 2002.
Cameron, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones and Lt. Lori Sanford said Dobson harassed them and retaliated against them after they testified in that hearing, which then led them to sue Dobson and the city.
Jones and Sanford also describe unrelated events to try to show how Dobson treats them unfairly.
A fifth lawsuit against the city was filed by former records bureau clerk Cheryl Chuba.
She says her rights under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act were violated after she provided information about allegedly improper incidents surrounding a police vehicle auction. Her lawsuit does not name Dobson.
Dobson could not be reached for comment Monday regarding the Cameron settlement because he was involved with preliminary legal issues involving the Madrigal trial.
People who likely will be called to testify at the trial include Chuba; Madrigal and his wife, Elsa; former Councilwoman Janine Rossman; current or former members of the Public Safety Commission; and other current or retired Allen Park police officers, including Dobson.
Price can be very high for attorney services
Published: Sunday, March 28, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- Everyday legal work and other more controversial problems consume much of the city's time and money.
The city has to pay two city attorneys, a city prosecutor and insurance costs.
The city's attorneys have no contract and are paid hourly.
Combined, legal fees amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Kruse and Tamsen
City Attorneys Kenneth Kruse and David Tamsen earn about $300,000 a year.
The law firm of Pagnucco, Kruse and Tamsen in Allen Park has no formal contract.
Instead, Allen Park's attorneys send monthly invoices for the hours they work.
Kruse and Tamsen are a very visible part of the city, as they do such things as attend meetings, take and make telephone calls, research information, handle some court cases and format documents daily.
They also take part in litigation matters, in some cases along with the city's insurance company.
They now make more than $100 an hour, even though they ask for less money for meetings they attend.
In December 2000, Kruse and Tamsen were charging $92.96 per hour and $69 for meetings.
Their rates slowly increased over the years.
As of January 2004, they make $102.07 per hour and $75.77 per hour per meeting.
City Administrator Anthony Rinna said the attorneys get their raises through council resolution.
When department heads receive their raises, the attorneys do as well, he said.
Kruse and Tamsen are not protected under any union.
This year, the newest council initiated a pay freeze for all employees.
"The appointees took a freeze, and so did they," Rinna said.
The council will look into various leading roles in the city to re-evaluate the need for the position and the pay.
From July 2001 to June 2002, Kruse and Tamsen made more than $297,000.
From July 2002 to June 2003, they made about $310,700.
From July 2003 to February, they made $178,414.
The city's insurance is administered by the Michigan Municipal League's Liability and Property Pool through Meadowbrook Insurance Group, based in Southfield.
The city insures itself for a wide range of matters: liability, property, inland marine -- such things as signs and electronics -- automobile, miscellaneous and crime and bonds.
The total annual pool premium as of July 1, 2001, was almost $368,000.
The premium in July 2002 was about $327,000. As of July 2003, it was $256,275.
The payout limit for liability is $10 million.
The fee for liability as of July 1, 2001, was $256,229.
In July 2002, the cost was $208,834 but increased to $256,275 in July 2003.
Over the past three years, attorneys have spent time working on several lawsuits against the city.
Those include four lawsuits by police officers against the city and Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
The lawsuits by Officer Marcos Madrigal, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones, Insp. Michael Cameron and Lt. Lori Sanford allege such things as discrimination, retaliation and harassment.
Cheryl Chuba, who used to work in the records bureau of the Police Department, has a Whistleblower's Protection Act lawsuit against the city.
Attorney Paul Pedersen is handling the cases through the insurance company, so there are no invoices.
However, Kruse and Tamsen also have taken a part in the lawsuits by sitting in during closed sessions and communicating with city officials, Pedersen and the opposing attorneys.
Even without considering insurance costs, it is difficult to tell exactly how much each lawsuit is costing in legal fees.
When Kruse and Tamsen send invoices, they detail what they did every hour, which usually involves several issues at the same time.
Rinna said the insurance company is handling the suits, but there is some information that Kruse and Tamsen supply.
Tamsen, for example, may have done some work with the Chuba matter because he represents the General Employee Civil Service Commission, Rinna said.
Kruse, likewise, represents the Public Safety Commission, he said.
The cost for Kruse and Tamsen as a result of the lawsuits is not monumental, Rinna said.
Another larger scale lawsuit is a breach of contract complaint against the city by Ohio-based contractor Gleason Construction Co.
Gleason had been hired in 2001 for a water main installation project along Rosedale.
Pedersen is handling that case. The only invoice so far has been for about $2,500.
The person who takes care of criminal matters is completely separate from Pagnucco, Kruse and Tamsen or Meadowbrook.
Richard Page, who also sends invoices for the hours that he works, has handled prosecutions since 1995.
In the second half of 2000, he made $63.86 per hour. The rate increased to $65.78 in 2001, to $68.08 in 2002 and then to $70.12 in 2003, where the rate remains.
The city wrote $48,170 in checks to Page in fiscal year 2000-01, $62,471 in 2001-02 and $50,728 in 2002-03.
Communities pay their attorneys in different ways.
While the city attorneys in Allen Park do not get a retainer fee, others do.
In Brownstown Township, for example, the DeBiasi law firm receives a $10,000 retainer every year and then is paid $150 per hour.
In Flat Rock, Grunow & Associates receives a monthly retainer of $1,833.
In Huron Township, the law firm of Allen, James & Foley receives a monthly retainer of $450 and $85 per hour worked.
On Grosse Ile, Look, Makowski & Look receive $95 per hour but no retainer. William Look prosecutes some cases but the township asks outside attorneys to handle cases as well.
In Brownstown, Flat Rock and Huron, the prosecutors are a part of the law firms.
Subcommittee to hear complaint
Published: Sunday, March 07, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- The Board of Ethics held one of its two yearly board meetings Thursday afternoon.
It should have been mostly administrative, and it started out that way. But a father and son with the same name, Curtis McGuire, made it more than that.
At the beginning of the meeting that would have lasted about 15 minutes otherwise, the board chose chairmen for the year.
R. Douglas Pretty, superintendent of Allen Park Public Schools, became chairman.The Rev. Kirk Miller of Allen Park Presbyterian Church is vice chairman.
Arthur Hayes, who was chairman until Thursday, made sure employees will be informed that they cannot accept gifts valued at more than $100. The board had discussed this at a previous meeting.
The board then set a meeting for 2 p.m. March 18 for the ethics subcommittee to hear a complaint against Curtis McGuire Jr., a member of the city's Public Safety Commission. The complaint is based on McGuire's actions involving a problem between Lt. Lori Sanford and Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
Before Nov. 17, Sanford made a harassment complaint against Dobson. The former city administrator, Kevin Welch, investigated it.
According to an excerpt from a Nov. 17 Public Safety Commission meeting that is included with the ethics complaint, McGuire had asked Dobson questions.
"A lot has been going around town about a disciplinary situation inside the Police Department -- between you and the other officers -- I was wondering if you wanted to elaborate or give your side of the story," McGuire had said.
Dobson said he wasn't aware of it.
McGuire then said: "Nothing with the situation with Lori Sanford?"
Dobson replied: "I'm not aware of it."
Dobson still maintains she was not disciplined.
To try to prove to the commission that Dobson allegedly lied, McGuire obtained Sanford's affidavit from her attorney, Joel Sklar.
The word "discipline" does not appear anywhere on the affidavit, but the word "incident" does.
The ethics complaint also includes a Dec. 26 memo from Welch.
"I believe that (McGuire's) involvement was unauthorized by the (commission), was unnecessary, appears to be self-motivated to defame or hurt the police chief and has negatively influenced the outcome of the investigation," it reads.
According to the process of such complaints, information about a possibly unethical act is submitted to the city attorneys. The attorneys make sure it is in proper order and submit it to the ethics subcommittee.
The subcommittee, which now is made up of Miller, Pretty and City Attorney David Tamsen, reviews it to see if it is worthy of being heard before the full board.
It does not become public information until it reaches the full board.
Tamsen said the whole point of involving the subcommittee was to protect people from allegations; it was to protect McGuire.
Among McGuire's complaints was that Tamsen should not be allowed to sit on the subcommittee.
The ethics complaint against McGuire Jr. is made by "David B. Tamsen, by direction of the mayor," according to the form.
Below Tamsen's signature, the form says completed complaints should be sent to the law firm of Pagnucco, Kruse & Tamsen.
Commissioner may face city's Board of Ethics
Published: Sunday, February 22, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- Rumblings are going on that Curtis McGuire Jr., a member of the Public Safety Commission, might face the Board of Ethics.
Mayor Richard Huebler has not verified that there is a complaint, but McGuire said Huebler has authorized it.
"I don't remember signing anything," Huebler said.
McGuire said Huebler told him he signed it.
"I asked him flat out," McGuire said.
McGuire said he is not sure what the complaint is about, although he believes it could be related to his actions involving problems in the Police Department.
An ethics complaint is not public information at first.
The city's attorneys review it first. If it is in proper order, it then is forwarded to an ethics subcommittee. If the subcommittee determines that the complaint is valid, it goes on to the Board of Ethics.
The information is private until it gets to that board, in order to avoid damaging people's reputations because of false claims.
City Attorney David Tamsen said he could not even verify that there is a complaint.
"There's nothing that can be discussed on that (because of the code of silence)," Huebler said. "The city attorney is handling everything on this issue."
He said the council as a whole has not talked about it, but there are rumors.
"Rumors are a dime a dozen, and you don't talk about rumors," Huebler said. "If we talked about every rumor that was wandering around loose out there, we wouldn't get any work done."
McGuire already sees various problems.
"It's all smelling like a setup," he said.
"Tell me I don't have them scared. They're doing everything they can to try to shut me up."
McGuire said the complaint is unwarranted no matter what it's about, but he said it might be related to an incident with Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
Dobson said he could not talk about the matter, either.
During a commission meeting last year, McGuire asked Dobson if there was an "incident" between him and Lt. Lori Sanford.
McGuire said he first asked if there was a discipline action taken. But Dobson plays word games, McGuire said, so he generally called it an "incident."
Dobson said nothing happened to his knowledge, McGuire said.
Sanford sued Dobson this month, alleging such things as retaliation, because she disclosed information about him at a Fire and Police Civil Service Commission hearing in July 2002.
In the suit, Sanford describes a day last year, which McGuire alluded to, when Dobson allegedly treated her so harshly that he made her cry.
McGuire said that to try to prove that the chief lied to the commission, he obtained Sanford's affidavit from her lawyer, Joel Sklar.
"I got proof from (Sklar) that there was an incident," McGuire said.
McGuire said he does not think what he did was wrong.Even if he shouldn't have talked with Sklar as a commissioner, he said he's only a commissioner for one meeting a month. As a resident, he can talk with whomever he wants to, he said.
McGuire has tried to get a copy of the complaint.
"The (city) attorneys won't return my calls," he said.
McGuire sees yet another inconsistency.Part of the ethics clause says people can only file a complaint on personal knowledge.
The mayor was not at that meeting or any other recent meeting, so McGuire said he doesn't see what personal knowledge Huebler has.
"It's as phony as the day is long," McGuire said.
This is the second time an ethics complaint has been made about McGuire.
The first time, Dobson alleged that McGuire used his authority as a commissioner to release sensitive information to the media.
Several complaints have been made since the creation of the Board of Ethics in 2000, but not one has made it to the board itself.
DIVISION IN ALLEN PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT:
Case against chief sparks legal storm
Cops punished for testimony, they say
February 14, 2004
BY MARISOL BELLO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Allen Park Police Lt. Lori Sanford had long put her ugly divorce from the city's police chief behind her.
She buried the anguish of the final days of their marriage when, she said, he once threw a plant stand at her and shoved her into a trashcan. But then she testified in a discrimination lawsuit filed against Chief Kenneth Dobson by Allen Park's only Hispanic officer. And the 16-year-old memories resurfaced. This time publicly.
Then Sanford, who spent 26 years policing the sleepy downriver city where she grew up, decided to cross the traditional blue line. She is suing Dobson, claiming he belittled and harassed her on the job for speaking out about the end of their six-year marriage.
The chief disputes her account, saying, "Just because something is alleged does not mean it is true."
But Sanford is not the only one who broke ranks among the city's 53 officers. Two other veteran cops and a civilian employee have sued the chief under the Whistleblowers' Protection Act.
In all, five lawsuits are swirling around the chief.
With each complaint, accusations -- some startling -- about Dobson's 32-year career have been made, including that he once sneaked under a table to lick the legs of an officer's girlfriend.
The 52-year-old chief's accusers portray him as a control freak who demeans employees and runs the department like a personal fiefdom. In a two-hour interview with the Free Press, Dobson denied or downplayed the accusations. He called himself a "benevolent dictator" who demands good work but treats officers fairly and holds no grudges.
He pointed to FBI statistics that show the city of 29,000 has the 16th-lowest crime rate of 41 Wayne County cities and that his department solves 50 percent of its cases, fifth-best in the county. "If this department was as bad as some people would like to portray, we wouldn't be there," Dobson said of the ratings.
The internal battle over the chief has split city leaders. Some current and former members of the Public Safety Commission, the advisory board that oversees the department, want Dobson out. "I think this is totally out of control, and no one has been able to reel this in," said Gary Dell, who chairs the commission.
The mayor and City Council back Dobson. The day after Sanford sued, the council honored Dobson for his induction as president of the Southeastern Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.
"We have apolice chief who is very competent," Mayor Richard Huebler said. "We have a police chief who is recognized by his peers as a leader."
Huebler and several council members said they will watch and wait as the five cases wend their way through the courts. The first suit, the discrimination case that ignited the legal explosion, is expected to go to trial in April.
The first suit
When Marcos Madrigal signed on as an Allen Park patrolman in 1997, he became the second person of color on the force. He and his family were proud that Madrigal, who is of Mexican descent, had broken a barrier.
The job provided a $14,000 raise compared with his pay as an Ecorse cop and better schools for his son and daughter.
"Allen Park was like the Bloomfield Hills of Downriver," Madrigal said in December.
But almost immediately after he started, so did the trouble. He said Dobson routinely disciplined him for incidents that barely registered a glance for other officers.
In 2000, he was arrested and jailed after he and his wife shoved each other during an argument at home. Court records filed by Madrigal's lawyer, Raymond Guzall, show other officers, including Dobson, had physical confrontations with spouses or girlfriends, but none was arrested.
Over 3 1/2 years, Dobson suspended Madrigal five times without pay for violating departmental rules. The case became a drawn-out public affair that included civil service hearings in which Dobson and the city fought unsuccessfully to fire Madrigal.
Dobson would not comment on Madrigal's claims.
By 2001, Madrigal said his only option was to sue -- a move that eventually set off a chain reaction in the department.
More claims follow
As more officers and city officials testified in Madrigal's case, more dirty laundry was aired.
By spring 2002, the first of three senior officers who would later file whistle-blower suits testified in depositions.
Madrigal's supervisor, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones, testified that Dobson unfairly picked on the patrolman. Two weeks later, the chief took away Jones' overtime, Jones said.
In his federal lawsuit filed last March, Jones alleges that was one of several actions taken by the chief as payback.
Inspector Michael Cameron testified about "land sharking," a trick the chief allegedly performed at parties, where he would crawl under a table and pop up between the legs of a woman wearing a skirt, sometimes to lick her thighs.
Cameron said in the late 1980s, when Dobson was a sergeant; he pulled the stunt on Cameron's wife, who was then his girlfriend.
In his federal lawsuit, Cameron claims his testimony cost him a 5-day, unpaid suspension.
A 28-year police veteran and Allen Park resident, Cameron has worked under five previous chiefs without problems, he said. At 52, he's eligible to retire this year, but he won't let Dobson push him out. "I only want things to be what they were like before I testified in July of 2002," Cameron said recently.
During the period that Jones and Cameron testified, Cheryl Chuba, a records clerk, raised questions about a public auction of seized cars. She questioned why the department sold leftover cars for significantly less than listed values to the company that held the city's towing contract.
Her lawsuit claims that when she reported the problems, the chief threatened to fire her. The city placed her on administrative leave and, at her request, eventually transferred her out of the department. She currently works in the City Clerk's Office, but would like to return to her old job.
Chuba's allegations led to a State Police investigation that found insufficient evidence to press charges against anyone.
Joel Sklar, the lawyer representing Sanford, Chuba and Cameron, said the attempts to control the disclosures -- not the disclosures alone -- are the problem.
Dobson would not comment on the specific accusations except to deny some of the incidents occurred or to say they did not occur the way they are alleged. He said some incidents are alleged to have happened so long ago, they should not be relevant today.
An ex-wife speaks
When her marriage ended, Lori Sanford wanted to move on.
"It's embarrassing," she said after she filed her lawsuit late last month. "I just wanted it to go away."
In time, she and her ex-husband reached a truce, not quite amicable, but professional. It was strained when he remarried, to another officer in the department, to be sure. But the truce ended, Sanford said, after she testified in Madrigal's suit in 2002.
She recounted the day she said Dobson locked her out of the house in her underwear, the time he threatened to kill her cats and the morning he shoved her into the trash can. She said she filed a police report after the last incident, but nothing happened.
Her lawsuit claims that after her testimony, Dobson was "personally abusive" and investigated her for unrelated incidents in which she followed long-standing department practices.
Now Sanford, who is the second female officer hired by the department, worries that she'll be fired. "This is very difficult for me, but I feel I have no other alternative," she said.
Dobson said Sanford's claims are not so new or shocking that he would retaliate. And besides, he said, her version of their split was widely known.
He said he filed a police report against Sanford for assault during that December 1987 fight in which he said a trash can was knocked over. But he denied shoving her into it and stuffing coffee grounds in her mouth. And he said he has never berated his former wife and did nothing but try to accommodate her career.
"To the best of my knowledge, Lt. Sanford has not been investigated," he said. "To the best of my knowledge, Lt. Sanford has not been disciplined.
"We've been divorced 15, 16 years, and she's not over it yet."
A chief with no boss
Dobson's critics say the real problem is that the chief runs the department with little oversight.
"He's never disciplined for anything," said Malcolm Beaton, a former public safety commissioner. "You know the Teflon Don? The chief is like that. Nothing sticks to him."
In Allen Park, the police and fire chiefs are civil service employees, which means the top job goes to the person with the most seniority and highest test score. The chiefs are not appointed by the mayor and City Council.
As a result, disciplining a chief takes a circuitous route that can involve two commissions, the city administrator, the mayor and council.
But Mayor Huebler said the chief ultimately answers to the mayor and council.
The five plaintiffs complain that so far, city officials have not made the chief accountable. They say they do not want to hurt the department, and they did not want to sue the city where most of them grew up and still live.
"What you're seeing . . . are people who do their jobs and see things that are wrong, tell the truth and then sadly see their lives turned around," attorney Sklar said. "This kind of behavior can't go on. They all want it to stop."
Ex-wife's suit is fifth filed against chief
By Lena Khzouz, The News-Herald
PUBLISHED: February 1, 2004
ALLEN PARK -- A fourth police officer has sued the city and Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
The lawsuit -- the fifth in a series of such suits against the Police Department or the city -- is in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Lt. Lori Sanford, who is Dobson's ex-wife, levels allegations similar to those of Detective Sgt. Larry Jones and Insp. Michael Cameron.
The three say Dobson harassed, humiliated or retaliated against them after they testified regarding a lawsuit by Officer Marcos Madrigal against the city and Dobson.
"I have not retaliated against anyone for anything," Dobson said.
Madrigal sued because he says he was discriminated against based on his ethnicity regarding a disciplinary action in 2000.That case began in 2001 and is pending while the other cases mount.
The fifth lawsuit does not come from a police officer and does not name Dobson.
Cheryl Chuba, who used to work in the records bureau, says she was retaliated against after she provided information about an April 2002 police vehicle auction that she and others said might have violated regulations.
In Sanford's complaint, she alleges violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act and the anti-retaliatory provisions of the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act.
She said she suffered embarrassment, fear, humiliation, outrage and anguish.
Sanford said prior to a July 2002 deposition in the Madrigal matter, Dobson tried to coerce and intimidate her into providing a favorable testimony, the complaint says.
It mentions that during their marriage, she was physically and psychologically abused by Dobson.
During an April 24, 2002, deposition, she discussed the alleged spousal abuse. It mentions that during their marriage, she was physically and psychologically abused by Dobson.
During an April 24, 2002, deposition, she discussed the alleged spousal abuse.
Following that testimony, "Dobson engaged in a pattern of discrimination and harassment" by threatening and intimidating her and by creating a hostile work environment, it says.
Dobson was abusive, initiated investigations of her for conduct that was lawful, and threatened to deprive her of benefits, it says.
"Dobson verbally and publicly berated (Sanford) despite the fact that (she) had not violated any rule or regulation … ," it says. It reads, "Dobson's abuse was so malevolent, offensive and vitriolic that (Sanford), a seasoned, well-respected and decorated police officer, was reduced to tears and (placed) in fear for her personal safety."
Sanford complained to the city, so the former administrator told him not to communicate with her more than necessary, it says.
Dobson ignored the instructions and tried to "intimidate her, place her in fear for her personal safety and demonstrate that, in the Police Department, … Dobson was above the law, accountable to no one and free to do whatever he pleased," it reads.
Dobson denies the allegations, which he calls vague.
"I'm more than a little bit perplexed as to what it is exactly that she is alleging," Dobson said.
Sanford has not been investigated, disciplined or denied promotions or transfers, he said.
There is nothing that she could have said that would have embarrassed him enough to retaliate against her, he said.
As for the spousal abuse, he said that was in 1987. "Her allegations are her allegations; mine are mine," Dobson said.
He said he had filed a report in the same issue alleging that she assaulted him.
"The rumors about it aren't exactly secret," he said. "After 17 years, I think it's been somewhat over- exaggerated."
Mayor criticizes leadership of the past
Published: Sunday, February 01, 2004
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK -- Mayor Richard Huebler attributes the problems in the Police Department to a lack of leadership, especially in the past administration.
"I think it was a major problem in all that we're facing today," he said. "We need a clear chain of command and support on our administrative structure."
The new council is learning, but things will then be OK and the department heads and commissions will have instruction, he said.
"We're just going through a little evolution right now," Huebler said.
The atmosphere in the Police Department has been unsettled for years.
Five lawsuits against the department or city and in four cases also against Police Chief Kenneth Dobson are pending.
Attorneys who represent the five sum up the problem in one word: Dobson.
But Dobson wants people to understand one thing.
"Just because someone makes an accusation, that does not mean that it's true," Dobson said. "I would just hope and pray that everyone will give me the benefit of the doubt" in the meantime.
Dobson said when evidence comes out before competent jurors, "they will decide that I have done nothing improper. That's my belief."
Huebler said he thinks the suits will be dismissed or overturned, and people will see they were not all they were cracked up to be.
Attorneys on both sides have been taking depositions from officers, administrators and general employees for several months.
Officials hesitate to talk about the litigation.
"We are trying to hire right now a mediator to go in and assess what's going on," Councilwoman Marcy DeGiulio-Galka said. "Until we get in there and get an assessment of exactly what's going on, I don't have any feeling. I'm neutral."
She would not say who that mediator would be.
"I'm not at liberty to give that," DeGiulio-Galka said. "We talked about all that in a closed session."
Dobson said he does not understand what is precipitating this problem in the department.
"If I could answer that, I'd be clairvoyant," Dobson said. "I'm not generally a conspiratorialist, but it's beginning to make me wonder."
lThe first lawsuit, which has impacted three others, is one by Officer Marcos Madrigal against the department and Dobson.
Madrigal filed his complaint in 2001 after what he said was excessive discipline. The case is in federal court because Madrigal, a Mexican-American, says he faced racial discrimination.
The case still stands before U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow.
Madrigal had been suspended for more than a year, but has been back since August 2002.
Because Madrigal believes he has been harassed since, the original complaint was amended to include that idea, said his attorney, Raymond Guzall.
The case has since led to three other suits by officers.
Detective Sgt. Larry Jones sued in February 2003.
Like other officers, Jones said he felt retaliation after he provided information in the Madrigal matter. He also lists past incidents that occurred before then that he believes were unfair.
The case is still in the discovery phase, when depositions are made and documents are exchanged, said Guzall, who also represents Jones.
It is assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland.
Inspector Michael Cameron's lawsuit also was filed in February 2003. Its claims are similar to those in Jones' lawsuit.
Tarnow is handling that matter. It is in federal court because, like other suits, Cameron says he was retaliated against because he used his First Amendment rights, said Joel Sklar, his attorney.
Lt. Lori Sanford sued Dobson and the city Monday, alleging similar issues. (See related story.)
Cheryl Chuba, who used to work in the Records Bureau of the department, sued in January 2003.
Although her lawsuit does not name Dobson, he is involved in this one as well.
Chuba provided information about a police vehicle auction that she and others say did not follow appropriate rules. As a result, she says she was harassed.
Her case has been moved up to federal court under Judge George Steeh because she too, alleges that her First Amendment rights were violated, said Sklar, who represents Chuba and Sanford as well as Cameron.
After a Michigan State Police investigation that Dobson says he requested, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said there was no criminal wrongdoing in the April 2002 auction.
Last year, former Prosecutor Michael Duggan said his office cleared Cpl. Robert Stites and the department. He said prosecutors were satisfied after reviewing information from the state police that nobody broke the law.
He said Stites had run the auction for the first time.
The normal practice was that the highest bidder at an auction gets a vehicle, but if no one bids on it, the vehicle is given to a scrap yard for $50, Duggan said.
In this case, somebody bid $800 for one, but did not come up with the money.
Anthony Vizachero, who helped organize the auction and was a member of the city's Public Safety Commission for about 25 years, then gave the department $50 for the car.
The issue was that they should have re-auctioned the car, Duggan said.
"And that was the only issue, and it's clear to me that nobody intended to do anything wrong," Duggan said last year.
There was no evidence that Stites knew the vehicle was being disposed of for less than it could have been sold for, he said.
That is what has been determined legally, but related issues are not closed for the people involved.
Sklar said it is shocking that despite the now five lawsuits, harassment continues in the department.
Unless legal action is taken, the harassment will not stop, he said.
Chief writes to inspector about alleged harassment
Published: Sunday, May 04, 2003
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK - Police Chief Kenneth Dobson wants Inspector Michael Cameron to clarify exactly what he meant in a letter he sent to another inspector regarding possible harassment.
Now, Cameron has until 8 a.m. tomorrow to respond to that letter from the chief, the latest of three strongly written, intra-department communications that have spread to city leaders.
The latest is a three-page letter that Dobson wrote to Cameron as a result of a letter Cameron wrote to Inspector Carol Wozniak-Dobson, the chiefs wife.
Cameron wrote that letter to her after she wrote 13 lines to ask Cameron about a traffic crash that Officer Marcos Madrigal handled recently.
Madrigal ticketed one person involved in the accident, but Wozniak-Dobson did not think he should have. She also questioned the quality of the report that Madrigal wrote.
Both Cameron and Madrigal are suing the city and Dobson based on issues that came long before this one.
Madrigal sued two years ago, mostly because he said a discipline handed to him was discriminatory.
Cameron sued in February, saying that he felt harassed after supplying information for the Madrigal matter, especially before the Fire and Police Civil Service Commission in July.
In Camerons letter of April 17, he says he feels Wozniak-Dobsons letter to him is a continuation of retaliation and harassment by the Dobsons over Camerons testimony and his lawsuit.
"I come to a different conclusion," Dobson wrote in the letter dated April 28. "I believe that your conclusion is not based upon objective logic. I believe that your comments are merely a self-fulfilling prophesy.
"I also believe that your accusations of retaliation are a mere ruse perpetuated to cover your own inadequacies as a supervisor."
Cameron said one would like to believe that someone who was incompetent would not have risen to the rank of inspector, as he has.
In Camerons letter to Wozniak-Dobson, he says he believes her letter was insubordinate and offensive.
Now, Dobson wants Cameron to submit the report to clarify various things he wrote to her, including how she was insubordinate.
Cameron said he would.
"I'll be very respectful and honest and truthful, and Ill speak from the heart," Cameron said.
Among other items in Camerons letter, he asks Wozniak-Dobson why she used the word "our" in her letter. He says it seems that "our" refers to the Dobsons.
In response to that, the chief wrote: "While it may have appeared to you that the mention of our attention referred merely to Inspector Wozniak-Dobson and myself, I believe that a cursory examination, by a non-querulous, logically thinking adult, would soon discern that our was intended to mean the Police Department."
Dobson goes on to say that many documents contain words like "we" and "our" rather than "I" or "me."
"I believe that your opinion is either based upon ignorance of the facts or a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts in order to promote your own personal agenda," Dobson wrote.
He says that even if "our" did mean the two of them, supervisors are supposed to tell administrators about possible policy violations.
Cameron said the things Dobson wrote to him were insulting and degrading and that he has never been spoken to like that in the 27 years he has worked for the Police Department.
"Ive had a fine, stellar reputation until July of last year," Cameron said.
In his letter, Dobson told Cameron he would not discuss certain issues.
"I will leave Inspector Wozniak-Dobson to answer to those issues not relating directly to me and/or the department, if she feels your machinations worthy of response," he wrote.
Dobson said the fact that Cameron sent the first two intra-department letters to the mayor, City Council, himself, the city administrator, Madrigal, the Public Safety Commission and the Civil Service Commission is "a breach of our policies, rules and regulations."
"If you violate this rule and regulation in the future, we will take whatever disciplinary action is appropriate," Dobson writes.
Dobsons letter has been sent to attorneys representing the city because of Camerons allegations of "continued harassment," according to the letter
Inspector says harassment continues
Published: Sunday, April 27, 2003
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK - Inspector Michael Cameron has handed out more information that he believes shows the police chief and his wife are harassing him and Patrolman Marcos Madrigal.
The latest information, contained in letters given to a handful of city officials including the mayor and the City Council, has to do with details about a traffic accident that Cameron believes was mishandled by Inspector Carol Wozniak-Dobson.
Cameron and Madrigal are two of three police officers suing the Police Department, the city and/or Wozniak-Dobsons husband, Police Chief Kenneth Dobson, for various reasons.
Madrigals complaint began with what he says was an unfair, biased discipline toward him two years ago.
Cameron sued this year, saying that he felt retaliation because of information that he had to provide in the Madrigal matter.
He says the alleged retaliation is continuing.
Wozniak-Dobson sent a letter to Cameron dated April 7 asking him about a traffic crash Madrigal had handled, why Madrigal had made the decisions he did and about the quality of a supplemental report that Madrigal wrote.
In her letter, she said Cameron should check into the matter again.
"Inspector Wozniak-Dobson, your letter to me is offensive and insubordinate," Cameron wrote back to her April 17.
"I can come to no other conclusion but that this is a continuation of the retaliation and harassment by yourself and your husband."
He added that he believes the harassment is based on his testimony in the Madrigal matter and is based on his lawsuit against the city and Dobson.
Wozniak-Dobson could not be reached for comment, and the chief said he could not talk about it.
"As far as Im concerned right now, I cant comment on it," Dobson said. "Its a matter of current litigation, and I will leave it to the courts to decide whats going on."
In addition to the mayor and the council, Cameron gave copies of the letters to the citys Public Safety Commission, Dobson, the city administrator, Madrigal and the Fire and Police Civil Service Commission.
Former commissioner arrested during public meeting
Published: Sunday, March 16, 2003
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK - A former public safety commissioner lifted his hands above his head Tuesday to show residents the handcuffs around his wrists.
"This is justice, people," Curtis McGuire Sr. said sarcastically as he was escorted out of a City Council meeting.
Soon afterward, his son, current Public Safety Commissioner Curtis McGuire Jr., allegedly was involved in a brief confrontation with police Cpl. James Riviera.
Now, McGuire Sr. might face charges for what he says was his attempt to protect his rights.
Police Chief Kenneth Dobson said McGuire Sr. was arrested for a misdemeanor, and the information will be sent to the Wayne County Prosecutors Office. A misdemeanor is punishable by not more than a year in jail.
According to community members, McGuire Sr.s intention for that night was to get arrested, and thats exactly what happened.
Mayor Levon King later said McGuire planned to "sling mud" at city officials.
City Administrator Kevin Welch said many people knew what would happen, so they prepared.
Allen Park police officers waited in the back of the chamber through the start of the meeting Tuesday.
But before inviting residents comments, the mayor clarified what is appropriate.
"Over four years ago, this council, by resolution, adopted rules of decorum for council meetings," King said. "The purpose of the rules is to require that discussion of public issues be orderly and efficient, and thereby to keep us focused on public policy acts and the business of the city.
"Matters of a private or personal nature may not be discussed.
"So I will therefore rule out of order any attempt to use this meeting to fight personal battles."
During his comments, McGuire Jr. said council members have discussed things such as an anniversary and a visit from family.
"The rules should apply for everybody," McGuire Jr. said. "You need to enforce them evenly and fairly, not just to a select few."
Soon afterward, his father spoke. Among other things, McGuire Sr. said there is something drastically wrong with a Police Department that has an inspector, a sergeant and a patrolman suing it.
King tried to stop him because he said McGuire was speaking about pending litigation.
"No, Im just bringing out certain facts that are city business," McGuire said.
As he went on, King told him his time to speak had expired but McGuire Jr. said he doubted that and other residents became rowdier.
"Dont pull that stuff," McGuire Sr. said. "Would the people like to hear the whole story?"
A handful applauded.
"Mr. McGuire, you are out of order," King said as the crowd kept chattering. "You are disrupting the meeting."
McGuire Sr. kept speaking, including saying that King had made a negative comment about Dobson to him.
"McGuires rantings and ravings are a combination of distortions, lies, unfounded suspicions, fabrications and fiction, which bear little resemblance to the truth," King said. "The fact is, I have no knowledge that Chief Dobson has ever been involved in any wrongdoing whatsoever."
As McGuire Sr. spoke, he was told to sit several times.
When he didnt listen, Patrolman Mark Brada walked up to him and asked him to sit. McGuire Sr. asked what would happen if he did not, and Brada said he would have to arrest him.
So McGuire Sr. stayed put and Brada cuffed him. As he walked out, McGuire Sr. kept talking about Dobson.
As he neared the back of the chamber, he raised his arms above his head to reveal the cuffs, inciting giggles from some residents.
"American justice," McGuire Sr. said. "How do you like this, people? This is what goes on when youve lived here for 45 years."
Later that evening, McGuire Jr. allegedly bumped into a police corporal deliberately. Riviera has made a complaint, and McGuire Jr. said he plans to do the same.
He said they were in the hallway with several other people when he felt Riviera either push or bump him.
Because the incident is under investigation, Riviera would not comment and the Police Department would not release a report.
But Lt. Mark Koller did say: "What I have are two witnesses that state that Mr. McGuire Jr. intentionally bumped into Cpl. Riviera."
Detective joins group of lawsuits against chief
Published: Wednesday, March 05, 2003
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK - Adding fuel to the fire, a third police officer has filed a lawsuit against the Police Department and Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
Detective Sgt. Larry Jones says he has suffered emotional and economic harm, especially as retaliation for his testimony in a separate lawsuit filed by Officer Marcos Madrigal.
Jones lawsuit says he has been "subject to retaliation, harassment, an offensive, intimidating, adverse and hostile work environment."
The lawsuit was served to the city Monday afternoon. It alleges violation of the federal Whistleblower Protection Act and Jones constitutional rights.
He is the third officer and the fourth city employee now suing the city, the Police Department and/or Dobson.
In addition to Jones and Madrigal, also suing are police Insp. Michael Cameron and former police records bureau worker Cheryl Chuba.
Jones lawsuit says that Dobson once yelled at him for about 15 minutes in late 2000 and said he had no courage as a supervisor.
Jones says Dobson also wrongly disciplined him in relation to the handling of a stabbing on Dobsons front lawn in February 2002. The incident involved Dobsons neighbors.
Comparing it to another incident, Jones says rules were broken during a March 24, 2002, stabbing, but no one was disciplined then.
Jones lawsuit says he was wrongfully disciplined in the February stabbing "to control and dissuade his testimony in the Madrigal lawsuit."
The lawsuit also says that there was a problem with an overtime policy, that Dobson harassed Jones in June in relation to a job interview for an FBI assignment and that last year officers told Jones to "watch his back because the city administration and Police Department was out to get him."
The suit also says that Jones had scheduled time off beginning Oct. 25, but that his wife was called at home that day and told that he was scheduled for diversity training Oct. 29.
Sessions were available in November, the lawsuit says, but Jones had to cancel his plans and return to Allen Park.
Jones lists other incidents as well. He is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.
In the other three lawsuits:
Madrigal says Dobson discriminated against him racially in relation to a suspension in 2000.
Cameron claims violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act. He also says he felt harassed after testifying in the Madrigal matter.
Chuba also alleges violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act. She says she felt retaliation after she talked with the Michigan State Police about what might have been a problem involving a police vehicle auction in April.
Police inspector files lawsuit against chief
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2003
ALLEN PARK - A police inspector served the police chief with a lawsuit yesterday morning.
Insp. Michael Cameron joins three other current or former police employees who have made formal complaints against the city, the Police Department or Police Chief Kenneth Dobson.
Cameron alleges that Dobson has retaliated against him because Cameron testified and gave a deposition during one of the other three investigations.
In that case, Officer Marcos Madrigal alleges that Dobson discriminated against him racially when disciplining him in November 2000.
In relation to that, Cameron testified before the Fire and Police Civil Service Commission in July.
Afterward, Cameron said he was subject to adverse actions by Dobson and his wife, Insp. Carol Wozniak-Dobson.
Cameron said he was subject to unwelcome and offensive comments and conduct, threats, intimidation, slander and manufactured and contrived accusations of unprofessional conduct.
In his lawsuit, Cameron alleges that Dobson once yelled at, screamed at and physically threatened him in relation to a departmental task.
Cameron said he met in November with City Administrator Kevin Welch and other city officials "to discuss escalating problems" with Dobson.
A month later, under what Cameron said is a contrived charge of "conduct unbecoming an officer" and insubordination, Dobson gave him a five-day, unpaid suspension.
The 26-year Allen Park officer is seeking more than $25,000 for the alleged violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act. The suit names the city of Allen Park and Dobson in his official and unofficial capacities.
"Theres not much I can say," Dobson said yesterday. "We just received it today and it has been turned over to the attorneys representing the city."
Camerons lawsuit comes weeks after Cheryl Chuba, a former police employee, also filed a Whistleblower Protection Act violation lawsuit.
Chuba had worked in the records bureau of the Police Department before she experienced alleged retaliation.
The alleged retaliation began after she discussed with Michigan State Police troopers her belief that the Police Department had violated rules related to a police vehicle auction in April.
In addition to Cameron, Madrigal and Chuba, Detective Sgt. Larry Jones filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights late last year.
He also said he experienced retaliation after he testified in the Madrigal matter.
Former police employee alleges harassment
Published: Wednesday, February 05, 2003
By Lena Khzouz
ALLEN PARK - A former Police Department employee has sued the city for alleged retaliation and harassment.
Cheryl Chuba, who worked in the records bureau from May 1999 until late last year, filed the lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court, alleging violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act. She is seeking more than $25,000.
The lawsuit is based on alleged retaliation toward her because she reported what she deemed a violation of rules for an auction.
According to the lawsuit, part of her job concerns the Police Departments public auction of seized vehicles.
In August, she reported suspected illegal conduct concerning an auction in the spring, so the Michigan State Police and the FBI began formal investigations.
Chuba said that as a result, she has been subjected to harassment and retaliation by the city, Police Chief Kenneth Dobson and Cpl. Robert Stites.
"I really cant say anything at this time," Stites said.
Dobson could not be reached for comment yesterday.
According to the lawsuit written by Chubas attorney, Joel Sklar, other Police Department employees warned her that she was in peril of personal harm.
Chuba requested a transfer into another department "because of the threats to her personal safety and the untenable treatment she received from (Stites and Dobson)."
Chuba began working in the city clerks office Sept. 18. On Sept. 23, City Administrator Kevin Welch suggested that she take a personal leave of absence.
On Oct. 30, Welch came to her house and promised her a safe position if she returned to the clerks office.
But she later was still subjected to harassment, according to the lawsuit.
Through her attorney, in December Chuba asked to return to the records bureau, where she said she enjoyed working for years.
Her request was denied.
Last month, she learned that the position in the records bureau had been cut.
Chuba alleges violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, which says an employer cannot fire, threaten or discriminate against an employee who reports a suspected violation of law.
She said she has suffered damages including lost pay and benefits, emotional distress and humiliation.