Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse had no idea she was in the crosshairs. On Thursday night, Nuesse said her job was in jeopardy because of a series of secret investigations conducted by city commissioner Brian Crandall.
The covert operation included an ambush interrogation and intimidation attempts by city and county officials, Nuesse said.
She said she's "angry at the injustice of a commissioner going off on a witch hunt."
Crandall did not return calls seeking comment.
Nuesse was to meet with city manager Matt Kline at 8:30 a.m. today. She said she had no idea what to expect, though she was told Thursday her job was on the line.
"I'm not going to fire anybody tomorrow," Kline said Thursday night. "She's not in jeopardy with me at all."
Nuesse said that on Tuesday afternoon she and assistant police chief Charlie Sams went to the Sandusky fire station for what they thought was going to be a meeting about joint dispatch.
Discussions about combining emergency dispatch in the county have been ongoing.
Crandall, commission president Dennis Murray Jr., commission vice president Craig Stahl, Sandusky fire chief Mike Meinzer and city law director Don Icsman were all there.
“It was clearly an investigation,” Nuesse said. “(Crandall) clearly had questions mapped out.”
She said Crandall asked Sams to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions about Nuesse and whether or not she had issued a gag order on Sams.
Later that day, the same three commissioners announced their recommendation that the city should pursue joint dispatch with Erie County as opposed to Perkins Township. This was an about face as two weeks earlier, city leaders had expressed a desire to pursue joint dispatch with Perkins.
Nuesse, along with Perkins police Chief Tim McClung, had been a vocal advocate of joint dispatch with Perkins Township. McClung was later silenced by a gag order issued by township trustees, who wanted to wait for the results of a county study before pursuing a combined dispatch.
Nuesse said several weeks ago she was told by Erie County commissioner Tom Ferrell that she would do what her bosses told her to do, and that McClung would do what his bosses told him to do, or they could face disciplinary action.
“After the inquisition that my assistant chief and I endured Tuesday, I felt it best to start looking at retaining a personal attorney to protect myself,” Nuesse said.
She has hired Sandusky attorney K. Ron Bailey.
While some commissioners have mumbled that Nuesse misled them on details regarding joint dispatch, Kline said no one has openly said she lied about anything. As for the gag order, Kline said he asked Nuesse point-blank if there was one and she denied it.
He said he has not seen any proof that Nuesse has misspoken on any matters.
Murray said late Thursday night the city manager is the only person who could fire or discipline the chief.
Disciplinary action does not go through the commission, Murray said, explaining that this protects the chief from any “political winds” that might blow against her.
Commissioner Brett Fuqua said he had no comment on any “bogus investigation.”
“Brian Crandall was not authorized to do any type of investigation,” he said.
Commissioner Julie Farrar declined comment. Commissioners Stahl, Dan Kaman and Dave Waddington did not return calls seeking comment.
“The police chief is working in some very difficult circumstances,” Murray said. “It’s a difficult position.”
Nuesse said Kaman, Fuqua, Farrar and Waddington have all been reasonable and supportive during her first year on the job.
“Why they would permit this, I don’t understand,” she said.