Two Long Beach Aldermen say the city is under attack from unfair media coverage and by certain people inside and outside the police department who want to make trouble. Since last fall, four female police department employees have filed sexual harassment and sex discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. One alderman says the situation has become "personal, vicious and vindictive."
Alderman Mike Bohlke says it's frustrating that neither he nor any other alderman can explain what's really happening in the police department because the attorney handling the complaints for the city has told them not to talk. The department's internal problems started with a sexual harassment complaint from Chief Tom Bishop's secretary. The latest complaint comes from a detective who was passed up for a promotion that was given to K-9 officer Louis Elias whose father is a city alderman.
"The EEOC came into the police department and once they're there, they're going get more people to (complain). They're going to people and saying do you have anything? Do you have anything? And I think that is why so many complaints have snowballed. I think they (the EEOC) are looking' for the complaints," Mike Bohlke told WLOX. Bohlke and Alderman Joseph McNary say it's not their job to micro-manage the police department and they can rely only on what the chief and the mayor tell them.
"If there's something wrong in the police department we need to bring closure but it needs to be done fair," said Joseph McNary, Long Beach Ward 4. McNary says he's talked to some people who are so upset about what's going on in the police department that they wonder if the Harrison County Sheriff's Department should take over law enforcement in the city.
McNary and Bohlke say while that could be an option in the future, it's just to remote too even consider right now. McNary says more progress could be made to resolve the problems if certain aldermen, whom he won't name, would share information. "I think it's kinda insulting that maybe two elected officials are aware of everything that's going on and that's not fair. If there's a problem, inform all of us and we can meet and try to bring some closure," he said.
McNary and Bohlke hope closure will come in court where the city can finally tell its side of the story.
Louis Elias Junior, the officer who was promoted to sergeant declined to talk to us until after the EEOC investigation is completed. So did Police Chief Tom Bishop and Chip Westbrook, the attorney who represents the city.