By jeanne starmack
A Liberty police sergeant will retire rather than face disciplinary action after an internal-affairs investigation.
Sgt. Dan Nichols, a 28-year member of the force, agreed to retire after a review board concluded he lied about why he moved a security camera away from garages in the police-station parking lot.
The area is sensitive because the department uses one of the garages to store evidence, and the lot is where officers park and enter the building, Police Chief Richard Tisone said Friday.
No evidence was missing, he said.
Nichols could not be reached to comment.
Nichols told the three-member internal-affairs review board that on Dec. 10 he moved the camera onto “garage door seven” because someone had been leaving the door open. The camera’s footage showed, however, that it already was capturing the image of garage door seven.
At 2:15 a.m. Dec. 11, Nichols moved the camera away from the garages and the parking lot so it was facing the front yard of the township administration building and police station.
Tisone said he noticed it when he came to work later that morning, and that Nichols needed permission to move the camera first.
“I need to know about it,” he said. “I had never had anyone misdirect the cameras before, and they’ve been there since 2008.”
He said he did not ask Nichols why he did it, leaving that instead for the review board in accordance with the police-union contract.
Nichols told the review board that the second time, he tried to move the camera onto garage door seven because he saw it was open. He told the board he closed the door, but was unsuccessful in redirecting the camera and abandoned the attempt.
The review board concluded he lied.
“This is also not a true statement based on the video of the incident,” the board’s report says.
“The video shows him drive past garage seven without stopping, then parking and entering the building. It also shows that the garage door is closed the whole time.”
“The investigators have no truthful idea why Sgt. Nichols moved the camera on Dec. 10 and again on Dec. 11 because his very adamant reason of moving the camera to see door seven has to be false due to the fact that it was already capturing door seven,” the report continues.
Tisone said he cannot speculate as to a true motive for manipulating the camera.
The review board concluded Nichols committed unbecoming conduct, neglect of duty, an equipment-use policy violation and noncompliance with departmental rules, and that he was not truthful.
Trustees sent a letter to Nichols saying that if he retires on or before June 30, they would not pursue disciplinary action.
Tisone said Friday the township has a verbal agreement that Nichols will retire, and it is waiting to get the agreement in writing.