Southport Matters » Clerk-Treasurer, Headline, News, Public Safety, Southport » Mayor Attempts Removal of Southport Whistleblowers

Mayor Attempts Removal of Southport Whistleblowers

Southsider Voice correspondent, Al Stilley is reporting today that Mayor Testruth has removed Public Safety Director, Kevin Bandy and fellow safety board member, Andrew Harrison from the Southport Safety Board. Both deny any correspondence or official notification from Testruth removing them. “Yes, we walked out of the meeting Saturday when Mayor Testruth could not see that laws were being broken. We didn’t want to be part of the cover-up” said Bandy. “We certainly didn’t resign” agrees Harrison. “We wanted the illegal activities to stop but Ellison refused advice from Director Bandy”. Harrison went further explaining, “Shoot, if stepping out of a meeting in protest means resignations, then the Southport Council all must have resigned in 2009 when they all walked out during the July council meeting. Kevin and I don’t see it that way“.

Earlier this morning, Bandy delivered official notice of a scheduled public meeting of the safety board (May 23, 2012 at 7 PM) to Southport Clerk-Treasurer, Diana Bossingham. Along with the notice, Bandy hand-delivered a letter from the safety board outlining recent allegations and the need for further inquiry. Bandy, in this letter to Mayor Testruth and Council President, Jim Cooney also explained that the Board is calling the special meeting according to Indiana statute.

Parts of that letter reveal:

Last month, we received specific allegations of a serious nature that obligates us to investigate concerns presented by private citizens in Southport. As the duly appointed and currently serving members of the Southport Board of Public Safety, we are privileged to use the powers granted to this Board by the State of Indiana.”

Our concerns are sincere and rest first with the safety and protection of our neighbors, the citizens of Southport. As importantly, our sworn obligation is to ensure the validity of our police department and its officers as well as the legality of the actions of any of its members.

We understand that to seek the truth requires a process that has been well established and is outlined in Indiana state statutes and within administrative law. We look forward to a fruitful resolution that serves our citizens, the Southport Police Department and the community at large.

Bandy and Harrison expect to continue as appointed board members until receiving official notice from the Mayor of their removal. It is unclear what ramifications are involved when standing Safety Board members initiate an inquiry that involves City employees.

Chief Ellison and Assistant Chief, William “Wild Bill” Bick were relieved of their command earlier this week after Mayor Testruth confirmed that both were not compliant with Indiana requirements for police officers. Ellison admitted Saturday that he had authorized Bick to use police powers independently in Southport – knowing that he had not completed his required training. Ellison also admitted that his credentials may not be valid as well. “I don’t know where my certificates are” said Ellison, “but I’ll start looking for them on Monday morning”.

Neither has completed their 40 hour requirements and only yesterday both Bick and Ellison finished one aspect of the state mandated requirements, the hand-gun qualifications.

It doesn’t seem that whistle-blowers have a chance under Mayor Testruth’s administration.

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8 comments on “Mayor Attempts Removal of Southport Whistleblowers

  1. If they have been removed from their command, why do they still have take-home vehicles? Ellison has a marked police car in his driveway; Bick’s is unmarked.

    • I’m not sure how that works Terri.

      Being removed from command doesn’t mean that they don’t work for the PD. Just that they can’t exercise police duties. Cities and towns frequentlyl have civilians working for the department. During my administration (as former mayor) we used civilian investigators. Chief Davis was careful NOT to authorize police powers for these guys and they towed the line. There are lots of Indianapolis employees who have city vehicles and drive back and forth to work. That decision rests (rightly so) with the mayor.

      Really though, I don’t see a reason to that Bick or Ellison need to walk back and forth to work. That might seem a bit generous to some but driving a city vehicle doesn’t get my cackles up. If they use unearned police powers, that’s a whole different story.

      You might recall that the acting chief of police for Indianapolis is in much the same boat. As I understand it, Rick Hite doesn’t have police powers in Indiana for much the same reason because he hasn’t completed the requisite certification. He has achieved the same training in Baltimore but Indiana doesn’t have reciprocity with Maryland. It would seem to me that Rick has to complete the same requirements at Ellison.

      I don’t want to get bogged down on what Bick or Ellison are doing now – unless they are breaking the law (again). Impersonating an officer and unlawfully detaining citizens are the violations that either or both need to be held accountable for.

      As citizens, we should let the process work itself out. There are procedures and statutes in place that offer Safety Board members the ability to interview witnesses and review activities and documents. The end result are “finding of facts” and “conclusions of law”. If either are guilty, then they should pay the penalty. If neither has broken the law, then let’s admonish them for their failures and move on.

      For those that may have been illegally detained, the department may well have a liability. I don’t think we’re insured for that kind of activity, but I haven’t review the exclusions of our municipal policy.

      If a persons civil rights were violated, that kind o f settlement can add up quickly.

  2. The report on Fox59 Ellison states that he has not been in a marked police car since he found out that his credentials were not up to date. “since this was brought to my attention, I have not worn a uniform I have not driven a police car…” I have to admit I am concerned. I would not want to insult an officer of the law trying to do his job by asking him if he was qualified, but if the situation comes up I may have to, it seems that all of our good officers have been fired and they’ve hired a bunch of guys that no one knows, who are they anyway and if Bick or Ellison hired them being unaware of the requirements expected of themselves, how do we know that these officers are qualified?

  3. Is Citizen saying that Ellison fired qualified Police Reserve officers and replaced them with “friends” that are not qualified?

    Why is a Southport patrol car parked outside of the city on Madison Ave. in the driveway of a tow truck driver? Is he on the Police Department also?

    There are a lot of things that do not make sense with this new administration. This all gives me cause to learn more. I saw that the Indianapolis News stated Bick was an IMPD officer? No he was not!

    Since the Board of Public Safety has been dismissed for asking questions of Bick’s or Ellison’s police qualifications, I wonder if the City Council will do their job and ask questions, or just pray before the meeting hoping that they don’t have to. Is there anyone in a position of elected capacity that will stand up? Go Team Southport!!!!

    • About Ellison’s hiring habits, I don’t know. Most any chief will want to surround himself with people he trusts. New guys during such transitions should be expectred. If the chief wants to hire his buddies, that’s OK too – as long as they are qualified.

      The bigger problem with thinning the ranks of qualified officers is to short change the city. Investigations were dropped along with the supported charges – serious felony charges that took years to build the correct case.

      Chief Davis’ team finally had a nuisance rocked back on their heels. The county prosecutor had the perpetrators charged and spinning. The complaints were well supported and Southport had finally cleaned up the most challenging property and began to rid ourselves of troublesome hoodlums.

      Now, how does Ellison plan to reconcile this mistake?

  4. A whistleblower (whistle-blower or whistle blower)[1] is a person who tells the public or someone in authority about alleged dishonest or illegal activities (misconduct) occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations, and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues).

    Whistleblowers frequently face reprisal, sometimes at the hands of the organization or group which they have accused, sometimes from related organizations, and sometimes under law. In cases where whistleblowing on a specified topic is protected by statute, US courts have generally held that such whistleblowers are protected from retaliation.
    Sounds like the Southport Mayor needs to read up on all his laws!

    I can clearly see the word “retaliation” written all over this case.

    Director Bandy stood up for what he should have, and did the right thing by asking questions about potential illegal activity. Seeking the truth and ironing out problems should be the expectation from everyone on the Public Safety Board.

    No one should be retaliated against for doing the right thing for their community.

    Surely the media outlets have already received a heads up on all the facts, and hopefully they shed some light on any corruption issues that exist!

  5. If only the Board of Public Safety had given Chief Ellsison his proposed Police Department budget of $325,000 he would of had some extra Ellision Dollars to hand out to keep things quite.

    All the hate that was shown to the prior administration of Mayor Thoman and Chief Davis, by the City Council and Mayor Testruth, now looks like manufactured anger. Now, situations are not that important to any of them as long as they circle the wagons and support each other. Southport credibility is on the line and I have a feeling the right things that should be done will be the exact opposite of what they would do if the Mayor’s name was Thoman, instead of Testruth. Open the blinds and windows and let the sun shine in. The truth shall set you free. All eyes will be on the City Council on Monday.

    The people of Southport will be listening and watching. Thank you former Mayor Thoman for making us aware of the situation!

    • Wow! Ellison proposed a $325,000 budget for his SoPD!!

      The entire City budget is only about $625,000; has been for years. Ellison is using his federal budget calculator.

      I agree that Southports and specifically Testruths credibility is on the line today. Jesse was given an opportunity to weeks ago to circle the wagons – in a good way. The “Indians” in this case were Ellison and Bick while the proverbial cavalry was Harrison and Bandy. Instead of listening to his scouts, Testruth shot them.