Nuesse vows to fight, wants to stay chief

SANDUSKY Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse described the Murman investigation as a "perfect stor
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

SANDUSKY

Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse described the Murman investigation as a "perfect storm of agendas."

"And I'm sure the 'good old boys' were happy to oblige," she said.

Late Friday afternoon, Nuesse sat in the Market Street office of her attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, and discussed the Murman and Associates investigative report made public Wednesday.

Nuesse said she was surprised by the lack of legitimacy of a supposed investigative report.

"I found it to be sexist, biased and lacking in objectivity," she said of the report's executive summary, which concludes that returning Nuesse to the helm of the Sandusky Police Department would result in "chaos."

She said she sees no reason she should be kept from returning to the job she loved. In fact, she worries there will be more "chaos" should she not return.

In the nearly two years she served as chief, Nuesse said she worked only for the good of Sandusky and its citizens. Her only agenda in challenging the "status quo" was to make the community a safer, better place, she said.

Nuesse listed a variety of initiatives she implemented to accomplish her goal. She noted that those initiatives and other interviews and documents favorable to her leadership were not included in the Murman report.

Those initiatives included:

-- Starting the drug tip hot line and e-mail address to provide a better way for residents to report suspicious behavior.

-- Having officers walk the school hallways, patrol school zones and teach children how to safely cross the street.

-- Working with those in the minority and faith communities to address their concerns by having officers more visible in neighborhoods and having more transparency and accountability at the police department.

-- Encouraging the development of strong neighborhood block watch groups and listening to their concerns.

"I feel like all that's now out the window," Nuesse said, adding that the police department has backslid since she was placed on paid administrative leave 57 days ago by city manager Matt Kline.

If she is returned to her duties, she said it would take "months" to get the department back on track.

"It is frustrating," she said.

But she's not backing down.

"It would be very easy to cut and run, but I'm not willing to do that," Nuesse said. "I'm here. I'm in for the fight."

"Hired to make decisions"

As to whether the entire command staff of the department would need to be replaced (as the Murman report indicates) should she return, Nuesse said that would be the decision of the individuals. Nuesse said police officers are tasked with a duty that does not require them to like or respect their supervisors.

"I was not hired to be the happiness fairy," she said. "I was hired to make decisions."

Some of those decisions were not popular. They include:

-- Pulling the police department out of the Erie County Drug Task Force. She said the organization was nearly defunct by the time she arrived in Sandusky, and not nearly as effective as the narcotics unit she later established within the police department.

-- Forming a local police chiefs' association, which she said was a way to collaborate with other law enforcement leaders to attack problems at the regional level. While the Murman report said this organization was formed in competition with the Erie County Sheriff's "long-established" meetings, Nuesse said it was a different organization, meeting at different times and not a coffee social hour like the sheriff's. Furthermore, she said she nominated the sheriff to be treasurer of the chiefs' association and worked with the other police chiefs to set the agenda of the association.

-- Seeking the assistance of U.S. Marshals to arrest individuals thought to be involved in shootings in Sandusky. The Murman report characterized those individuals as committing petty crimes and overcrowding the Erie County jail. She said it's not her obligation to notify the sheriff or county prosecutor of these arrests prior to making them, and the jail's overcrowding problem had been an issue long before she arrived in Sandusky.

-- Prohibiting police officers from accepting discounts or free refreshments from local businesses to prevent any conflicts of interest. Instead, refreshments were provided at the police department for officers. She said this decision and budgetary expenditure was approved by former city managers and considered good police practice.

Response to accusations

In the Murman report, Nuesse's lack of cooperation with the county and other departments was questioned. Nuesse said she's pushed the police department to cooperate more than they had in the past with all agencies in the area -- and pointed to the chiefs' association and arrests by multiple agencies in the string of burglaries as proof of this cooperation.

"It's preposterous to say I was isolated from the county," Nuesse said.

Further, the Murman report said that the voiding of a parking ticket issued to Nuesse in 2006 is "emblematic of a double standard and disrespect for the law."

Retired Sandusky police Capt. Gary Frankowski said the voided parking ticket was blown out of proportion by the investigation. The parking ticket was voided by Frankowski even though Nuesse offered to pay it, he said.

"I thought the ticket was given in poor judgment," he said, describing why the ticket should never have been issued and that the proper protocol was taken to void the ticket.

The report also suggested Nuesse accepted an "unnecessary public risk" by not buying software for the laptops in cruisers because the sheriff used the same software vendor. Nuesse said no one was put at risk because dispatchers are available at all times to provide information over the radio, and it didn't make sense to pay for a contract with one vendor when the department might have to turn around in a few months and pay for another vendor's software once the regional dispatch situation was settled.

"It had nothing to do with liking or disliking a vendor working with the sheriff," she said.

The report also claimed Nuesse said the Sandusky police dispatch system was on the verge of collapse, posing a serious threat to the safety of the community. Nuesse contends other people said that, not her. She said she was urged to investigate the options and speak freely about the best long-term solutions, which she said she did.

When asked about the 2005 WiFi grant, which the investigative report concluded she had filed with falsified or exaggerated information, Nuesse replied only that certain witnesses and documentation had been overlooked by investigators.

Nuesse further questioned the legitimacy of an investigation paid for by the city.

She said if the city really wanted an impartial investigation, there were other avenues to pursue, such as contacting the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ohio Attorney General or the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

Nuesse said this investigation called into question decisions nearly two years old that had been approved by previous city managers Mike Will and Don Miears.

She said she feels Kline cut her off at the knees, and his lack of management experience shows in how he handled this situation.

Nuesse said she will not accept any severance package that may be offered, though she's unclear about what the next step will be.

"I want my name cleared," she said.