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Police chief receives warning in a memo

City Manager Jerry Mudd's memo to Chief David Milchan says it is important that employees not be intimidated.

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 9, 2000


PINELLAS PARK -- The city manager has warned Chief David Milchan and his staff that they are not to intimidate officers who complain about the Police Department.

Jerry Mudd issued his warning Monday in a memo that recapitulated in vague language a meeting last week between the two officials.

During the meeting, the chief named two of his officers and asked Mudd if they had met with Pinellas Park's Human Resources Department to discuss an employment-related issue, according to the memo.

Milchan apparently was dissatisfied with Mudd's response, so the chief called Human Resources himself and asked if the two officers had been in.

Mudd said he was neither "criticizing nor questioning" Milchan's motives or his integrity, but he did want to "emphasize" the importance of maintaining the "appearance" that employees will not be intimidated.

"I am absolutely certain that your inquiries . . . were made in good faith," Mudd wrote, but he was concerned about the timing of Milchan's inquiry.

"It is especially important at this time that neither you nor other members of your staff give the appearance or impression of interfering with any employees who are voicing legitimate employment-related concerns in whatever proper forum they choose."

Mudd added that Milchan and his staff also should refrain from giving the appearance of interfering in anycontinuing or future investigations.

Milchan said Tuesday that he couldn't comment because he hadn't seen the memo.

Mudd declined Tuesday to provide more details. He said he wanted to maintain the officers' confidence and did not want to "contaminate" the outside investigations that are beginning.

Three female officers have filed state and federal complaints against the Pinellas Park Police Department, alleging they are the victims of sexual discrimination and harassment.

Two male officers have filed union grievances, alleging they are on a "hit list" of employees targeted for termination.

The wife of one of the officers has written letters that allege the harassment and retaliation extend to officers' families.

While Mudd has said he doesn't believe there is discrimination, harassment or retaliation within the Police Department, he persuaded City Council to spend about $41,000 for an outside consultant to evaluate police morale and offer solutions.

The city manager also plans to recommend that the council hire a retired judge to investigate the claims of a "hit list" and other issues that might arise during that probe. Council members likely will vote on that at their Aug. 24 meeting.

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