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POLICE INVESTIGATION Justice Department returns to question citizens



Published: Sat, April 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The officials are expected to be in town for two days.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- U.S. Justice Department officials investigating the city police department are expected to return to the city Monday.

Tom Conley, director of the Warren-Trumbull Urban League, said the officials are expected to meet with people who have filed complaints against city police. The officials are expected to be in town for two days, Conley said.

Conley declined to identify those who have meetings planned.

"Some of these victims are afraid and asked me to go with them to the meetings," said Helen Rucker, a former city council member and current council candidate. "I'm very glad the officials are meeting with the victims because they will get a different side of the police department."

Previous visit

Justice Department officials spent three days here last month. At that time, they met with current and former city officials and some members of the police department.

Mayor Michael O'Brien and Doug Franklin, city safety-service director, said Saturday that they have no plans to meet with the officials this time.

"I believe they are just meeting with the citizens," Franklin said. "However, our doors are open and will continue to be in the event they want to meet with us."

After the last visit, O'Brien said officials told him the city needs to work on the citizen complaint system, but he declined to give specifics.

Eric Holland, spokesman for the Justice Department, could not be reached to comment.

U.S. Justice Department officials appear to be concerned about strip-searches by city police officers, according to Fred Harris, the city's former safety-service director.

Harris has said he met with officials last month and the majority of questions he was asked dealt with the strip-search allegations.

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

sinkovich@vindy.com




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