Candidate for chief of police suspended

August 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm

*published Aug. 12, 2010
Dickerson allegedly threatened woman
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

WESTLAKE — A city police officer who’s challenging the chief of police for his job has been suspended for two weeks, but the action apparently violates state law.

Michael Dickerson, a 14-year veteran with the department, was placed on paid leave Monday after an internal investigation showed “numerous policy violations,” Chief Jeremy Cryer said.

Dickerson denied allegations he threatened a woman July 28, but under advice from his attorney, he declined to comment further in an interview with the American Press.

Cryer said his decision wasn’t politically motivated. The chief, who has led the 20-member Westlake Police Department for six years, is facing a challenge from Dickerson in the Oct. 2 election.

“The internal investigation had to take place because he was on duty and in uniform when this took place,” Cryer said.

Under the Lawrason Act — a set of state laws that apply to Westlake and other non-chartered municipalities — elected chiefs can’t promote, discipline or fire officers without first recommending the actions to the mayor and City Council.

In this case, evidence from the internal investigation would have to be presented to the council in executive session, and council members would make a decision.

As of Aug. 11, Westlake city records listed no agenda item for a special meeting or executive session.

On July 27, the owner of a hair salon on Sampson Street reportedly allowed Dickerson to place a campaign sign in front of her business.

The complainant, Pam Richmond, works at the salon and said she was under the impression that Cryer would also place a campaign sign in front of the business.

On July 28, Richmond said she moved the sign, with the owner’s permission, to an area behind the building to protect it from bad weather.

Dickerson reportedly asked Richmond not to remove the sign and said that if she didn’t like it, to call him and he would remove it.

Richmond said Dickerson came in the salon, spoke with the owner, then came and blocked her in a corner. She said he had an angry tone and angry eyes.

“I thought he was about to get violent,” Richmond said. “I was shocked, and that’s why I filed the complaint” later that day.

Richmond said she lives outside the city limits and has no stake in the election.

Cryer said he referred her to the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office, which referred her to the district attorney, with whom she is scheduled to meet on Friday.

link: http://bit.ly/9u6Qtd

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