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Feds to meet with Warren, police officials



Published: Sat, April 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Officials from the U.S. Justice Department are expected to meet with city and police officials Monday as part of their investigation of the city's police department.

Law Director Greg Hicks said the officials are expected to arrive Monday afternoon and have asked to meet with the police chief and the department's command staff.

"I, along with the mayor and safety-service director, will meet with the officials for a brief period," Hicks said. "We are basically just going to introduce ourselves, and then, they will meet with the police command staff."

The officials are expected to meet with internal affairs officers, patrol officers and former Safety-Service Director Fred Harris.

Harris could not be reached to comment.

Hicks said the officials are expected to be in town through Wednesday, but he doesn't know who else they plan to meet with during the visit.

"The letter they sent me says they also plan to have an exit interview with command staff Wednesday before they leave," Hicks said. "I'm not sure what information they are looking for, but I told them that this office plans to help them in any way possible."

Mayor Michael O'Brien concurred, saying the city will "exert the utmost cooperation" with officials.

Investigation

The Justice Department began investigating the police department in January after numerous allegations of illegal strip searches and excessive force by officers.

The Justice Department asked the city for many records in January and February. Hicks said all the records requested were sent.

Most of the records dealt with the department's policy and procedures.

Tom Conley, CEO of the Warren-Trumbull Urban League, who first contacted the Justice Department in 2003, says he is pleased officials will be in town.

"I think they need to be here," Conley said.

LaShawn Ziegler, who received a $25,000 settlement after he filed a federal civil lawsuit alleging he was illegally strip searched, says he doesn't believe the investigation will result in any charges against police.

"Nothing is going to happen to any police officer because nothing ever does," Ziegler said. "To law enforcement officials what the cops did to me and to others is not a crime. I just don't have any confidence in law enforcement officials anymore."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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