No criminal charges filed in investigation of New Albany police - News, Weather & Sports

No criminal charges filed in investigation of New Albany police

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson
Officer Laura Schook Officer Laura Schook
Former New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight Former New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight
NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said no criminal charges will be filed against members of the New Albany police department, following an Indiana State Police investigation into allegations of ghost employment.

Henderson said the investigation was thorough, interviewing 40 witnesses, and he did not believe that there were any violations of criminal law by officers.

"Our goal was to have a thorough investigation," said Henderson. 

Henderson says investigators specifically looked into whether Humphrey and Tucker were spending time working other jobs while clocked in for the police department. 

Humphrey is the co-owner of River City Winery on Pearl Street. 

"There were allegations that Officer Tucker had a photography business he was working on on the side," said Henderson. 

Henderson says the investigation proves there were no criminal violations. 

On May 8, Patrol Officer Laura Schook, a 19-year veteran of the New Albany police, alleged "serious criminal conduct" by members of the department during a meeting of the police merit commission.

[PREVIOUS STORY: New Albany police officer alleges criminal conduct, corruption and discrimination within ranks]

Schook's lawyer, Laura Landenwich, said several officers were stealing money by lying about the hours they worked or by working other jobs when they were supposed to be on duty. Landenwich also said some members of the department retaliated against Schook when she told her superiors about the allegations. "She didn't get backup when she needed it, which is terribly dangerous and no officer of the law should be faced with that," Landenwich said.

"I think it is important to note that just because there are no criminal charges that does not mean there was no misconduct," said Landenwich. 

Landenwich said Schook had brought allegations to the merit commission several times, dating back to 2010. She said former Chief Sherri Knight, before she took the position of police chief, ignored the allegations.

"While we are very glad those allegations were taken seriously and that it was looked into, she is still suffering the consequences of coming forward," said Landenwich. 

Soon a civil lawsuit will be filed. "The civil suit has to do with covering up for other officers, so it is a culture of silence, it is a culture of letting certain people get away with acts that are wrong," said Landenwich. 

[PREVIOUS STORY: Officer plans civil suit against agency after corrupt conduct allegations]

"Those matters specifically as it relates to Officer Schook and how she was treated was not the focus of this criminal investigation," said Henderson.

In a statement released after Schook brought the allegations to the merit commission, Chief Knight said the department "absolutely denies any allegations of misconduct."

On May 20, Knight and former Assistant Chief Greg Pennell resigned their positions and asked to be reassigned. In her resignation letter, Knight said she wanted to return to her old position, citing a desire to spend more time with her family.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Sherri Knight resigns as New Albany police chief, will stay with force]

New Chief Todd Bailey asked the Indiana State Police to investigate the claims and made all files and resources open to the investigation, Henderson said.

Henderson said he could not say whether any internal or civil violations occurred and could not comment on how Schook's allegations were handled by the department and the former chief, only saying that nothing in the investigation rose to the level of a crime.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan and Chief Todd Bailey released a joint statement saying they are pleased with the findings. Now they intend to hire a third party human resources firm to investigate any internal violations. 

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