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Interviews begin in cop probe in Warren



Published: Tue, April 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The officials with the justice department will have the city's 'utmost cooperation,' the mayor said.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Without saying a word, six officials with the U.S. Justice Department entered the police department and immediately went behind closed doors to meet with several city officials, including the mayor, safety-service director and the police chief.

The officials who arrived Monday afternoon did not identify themselves nor respond to questions from reporters.

City Law Director Greg Hicks escorted the officials to the building and took them to council's chambers.

"They are going to be meeting with members of the police department today, tomorrow and Wednesday," Atty. Hicks said. "I will answer any questions, if I can, and will be around, if needed."

Mayor Michael O'Brien and Doug Franklin, safety-service director, said they met briefly with two police chiefs who are working as consultants with the justice department.

Joseph Michael Polisar, a police chief of Garden Grove, Calif., and Chief William B. Berger, of Palm Bay Police Department in Florida, are the two consultants, Hicks said.

The justice department probe is an example of "two government agencies working together," O'Brien said. "We stressed that they will have our utmost cooperation."

O'Brien and Franklin said the justice department officials were very impressed with the department's policy and procedures.

Cooperation

The city sent the U.S. Justice Department the police departments policy and procedures, as well as copies of internal affairs reports and citizens complaints against the department.

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

"I am pleased they are here because I believe everyone will benefit," Harris said. "I plan to tell them about the allegations that came to light while I was in office, such as the alleged illegal strip-searches."

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

Tom Conley, CEO of the Warren-Trumbull Urban League, who first contacted the Justice Department in 2003, and Councilman James Pugh said they are pleased officials are in town.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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