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Shelby Police Chief Out Despite Pleas to Keep Job

Shelby Township will be looking for a new police chief after voting Tuesday evening not to renew Chief Robert Leman's contract.

Police Chief Robert Leman’s last day on the job will be Sept. 30 after serving the department for 10 years.

The Shelby Township Board of Trustees voted against renewing the chief’s contract for three more years Tuesday evening. Leman’s previous one-year contract expires Oct. 1.

After nearly two hours of public comment and an impassioned plea from the chief to keep his job, the board voted 5-2 against renewing the contract.

The boardroom erupted after the vote was taken, and members of the audience began shouting at the trustees. One woman approached the trustees and yelled, “How can you sleep at night?”

Despite the public’s overwhelming support, Supervisor Richard Stathakis stated before the vote that he was not in favor of the contract extension because the chief failed to meet his expectations.

“I think the Shelby Police Department would be better served to go into a different direction,” he said.

After the vote, Leman told Patch he believed some of the board members based their decisions on personal matters.

“I met with Mr. Stathakis and he had a litany of complaints against me, and all the complaints were personal in nature, none had to do with my job running that police department,” said Leman.

Trustee Paula Filar said Tuesday evening that her nay vote was based on a public matter, and Chief Leman would be receiving a letter shortly.

“As Paula Filar said, ‘I will be sending a personal letter.' This is a public meeting. Express your displeasure at what I am doing wrong,” said Leman.

Police Report Critical to Leman’s Fate

Much of the two-hour discussion was focused on a r The $30,000 report, commissioned by the board of trustees, analyzed the police department’s operational and procedural practices, budgetary staffing issues and service levels.

The report stated, “STPD’s management appears to be strong in some areas and not pro-active in other areas.”

The board will be formally reviewing the Nottley report on Oct. 5 during a pubic work session.

“We haven’t had the work session yet to go through the Nottley report. Why would we make a decision now? Then the report doesn’t even make sense,” said Clerk Terri Kowal.

The chief said he was upset that he hasn’t had a chance to work out any of the recommendations made on the report.

“For the five members that voted against me, it was just a hoodwink. They indicated that the study was going to come out and it would dictate whether I would continue my employment based on the recommendations and if I could accomplish them,” said Leman.

Trustee Douglas Wozniak said he would have been in favor of a one-year contract extension to allow the chief time to implement the changes suggested in the Nottley report.

“I had originally hoped the report would be done in May. … I don’t think the timing of the Nottley report coincides well with the chief’s contract,” said Wozniak, who voted against the extension of the three-year contract. 

Several residents spoke in favor of keeping the chief.

“He’s managed to run the department efficiently given the tools you’ve given him,” said Shelby resident James Boyle. “I am a taxpayer, and I am not looking for a change. Anything less than a three-year contract, I don’t think were giving the man a fair chance.”

When Leman started with the department in 2001 the police fund was at $3 million, he told the board Tuesday. It now has $11.2 million and the police equipment replacement fund grew from $300,000 to $4 million.

“I do not credit the chief, and I don’t know if he credits himself for the many achievements he listed. That’s his job,” said Treasurer Paul Viar.

Leman also told the board he was able to fund the new $4 million police department in cash, without dipping into the township’s General Fund.

“We wouldn’t have a new police building being built if it wasn’t for Chief Leman,” said Shelby resident Clarence Cook.

What’s Next for the Shelby Township Police Department?

Stathakis, who is tasked with appointing an interim chief until the permanent position is filled, told the public he does not yet have a replacement in mind.

“As a lot of people have told me, one door closes and another opens. I have faith in God that he has something else for me,” said Leman.

Truthful Enquirer September 21, 2011 at 04:19 PM
I'ts interesting to me that one Leman supporter brought up the name of Larry Nevers in his emotional dissaproval of the board vote. Did the Detroit Police Department know that there were rogue officers in their midst? Nevers was convicted twice, the second time on appeal. It's also interesting that that same supporter took the time to take a swipe at Mr. Turner's past indiscretion as though it was germaine to the topic in any way. Typical liberal tactic. If the facts don't support you, attack the messengers in a personal fashion.
john g September 21, 2011 at 04:59 PM
shelby police dept needs a complete overhaul---if you don't believe it read Matt Guarnieri post--tired of seeing shelby police on the M-53 expressway----when speeding is running rampid on our roads---overhaul is needed and glad its starting at the top
disgusted September 21, 2011 at 05:07 PM
so happy to see that Leman finally got what he deserved. He allowed his officers to hurt so many innocent citizens and then he defended their inappropriate behaviors.
HTTP://SHELBYTWPTRUTH.BLOGSPOT.COM September 21, 2011 at 05:38 PM
It is time we get off the poisonous Save Shelby snake oil and start looking at the facts. Blame the politicians if you want that is a pretty typical reaction. But how can we expect accountability when the leader of a department refuses to take accountability for his leadership, or lack thereof. Those who opposed change in the department love the liberal status quo - a process that is leading to township bankruptcy. RAISE TAXES these people yell, just as long as we keep our pensions, perks and power. Those who oppose change said our township will go to hell unless Leman was kept on. Again, pretty typical reaction from people (Brent Freeman) who believe there should be no new people involved in the township at all. Just keep the status quo and tax everyone, if needed, to get more money. Time to move on.
TRUTHSEEKER September 21, 2011 at 05:43 PM
The people who speak from the floor are really getting ridiculous. Ken Underwood calling Board members a “jackass" as he attacks Treasurer Viar. Several members cursing in anger. Yelling, screaming and a general lack of respect. Heck, even Dub Hearon (we have official lost respect for him) jumps up to interrupt when a Board member is speaking. Mr. Hearon wants our elected officials limited to five minutes. Why didn't he propose such a measure when he sat on the Board? Because it is just a plain stupid idea, that's why. Residents can scream all they want about a lack of respect, but these people need to look in the mirror to see who is doing the screaming here.
shelby resident September 21, 2011 at 08:28 PM
John g and ShelbyTruthspot both have something right: Start at the top and move on.... it starts with Leman- and will continue with Stathaksis and Viar. I can't wait for elections in 2012. The whole board will be voted out. Good riddence.
Marina Cracchiolo (Editor) September 21, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Update: Captain Roland Woelkers named interim chief http://patch.com/A-mphH
disgusted taxpayer September 21, 2011 at 10:12 PM
"Typical liberal tactic. If the facts don't support you, attack the messengers in a personal fashion." I guess that makes Paul Viar the most LIBERAL board member ever. He constantly attacks anyone that has an opposing viewpoint. He is the angriest, most disrespectful person that I have ever seen. It is beyond me why anyone would continue to vote for him. I don't know how anyone can believe that he did not threaten a planning board member or chase a police officer screaming obscenities. He can't even control his temper or comments at a "professional", televised board meeting. If anyone brings shame to this township, it would be Paul Viar.
disgusted taxpayer September 21, 2011 at 10:18 PM
I agree with you on this. There is a total lack of respect from board members and citizens. It is difficult to watch the board meetings from home. I do not know if I could control myself if I were to attend a meeting in person.
disgusted taxpayer September 21, 2011 at 10:39 PM
I believe that Matt Guarnieri is wrong. If Leman were to apply at another police department, he would have a better chance then of getting hired. Thanks to the $30,000 Nottley report, it proves that he far exceeds most other municipalities in several areas. He can now take that report and use it as a badge of honor if he chooses to apply elsewhere. He can also say that since he chose to investigate the "giftgate scandal", he lost his job. You are correct on one point, he is responsible for the actions of his officers. When he finds an officer that has been guilty of a serious crime, he has FIRED them. Also, it is obvious that as a researcher you are not as unbiased as you claim. You cannot look at a database without comparing the Shelby Township officers to their peers. Any industry has employees that could be considered liabilities to their employers. If you were to compare Shelby Township to other departments, you would be surprised at how few incidents our township has compared to others. Do you not read the newspapers? Have you "investigated" all of the police officers in macomb county. You can't say that other departments aren't your concern since your taxes don't pay their salaries. If you want to give a true "unbiased" opinion, you would research all the surrounding communities police officers.
TRUTHSEEKER September 21, 2011 at 10:59 PM
The only way this will happen is if taxpayers want to return to the free spending, high-taxing, liberal policies of the past. I doubt they will. Conservative Republicans will soundly defeat the Save Shelby pack of liars hands down. Their agenda is wrong for our township. They were rebuked in the recall, and they will be buried in 2012. Good riddence to the Save Shelby liberal liars.
disgusted taxpayer September 21, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Truthseeker is really assuming that if you want Viar and Stathakis out, you have to be a liberal. There are MANY conservatives that may agree with some of the things that they have accomplished, but there is a hint of stink that will forever surround them after the giftgate scandal. Now with their "personal reason for going in a different direction for a Chief of Police" it just makes a person wonder. I feel bad for Mr. Stathakis. I feel like he really does care about his community and is sincerely trying to do his best. Unfortunately, I think that he chose to align himself with Paul Viar when he should have recognized him for what he is-a politician that thinks he is above the law and one who thinks he can bully anyone and get away with it. To quote Mark Twain: “Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.”
HTTP://SHELBYTWPTRUTH.BLOGSPOT.COM September 22, 2011 at 01:44 AM
What is truly disgusting is how the Save Shelby “Liar Society” loves trashing our township. The group is predicting the death of our true conservatives, not those like Nick Nightingale who call themselves conservatives, after years of supporting the liberal status quo. He MUST be joking if he thinks residents will buy this campaign message. By the way, Mark Twain would likely have this to say about those who are predicting the demise of our conservative Board of Trustees: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Thomas Delise September 22, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Boy I can see you guys are on a roll with the story telling and twisting.Do you really think the majority of the residents that are aware believe any of the nonsense that you few spit out? The day will come!
Truthful Enquirer September 22, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Tom, I think the day has come. The silent MAJORITY failed to support you in the several recall attempts. They initially re-elected several of the incumbents you question as well as electing the new supervisor by a majority (read landslide) vote. I respect your passion but I'm afraid you're not seeing the bus that's ready to run you over. Same goes for the Nightingales and Manzellas.
B. G. September 22, 2011 at 10:20 PM
I am confused. The giftgate proved Lisa Manzella was lining HER pockets? I thought it only involved Jamie Barra and Rick Stathakis and the developer buddy. I do tend to disagree about the 2012 elections. With the number of angry people at the meeting supporting the chief, I doubt they will forget anymore than the public forgets the mess Obama has foisted on us.But lets set aside the chief issue... Shelby deserves more professional people in these important positions. The lack of leadership experience, the arrogant 'we know' better than you attitude , the refusal to listen to their employer( ie: electorate), much less explain their actions as public servants ,and the bullying by some board members is enough justification to remove several.
Matt Guarnieri September 22, 2011 at 11:09 PM
In the “gift gate” official investigation report, it states that Jamie Barra did take 500.00 and helped the property owner lower his property taxes by 2615.00. Jamie Barra, an employee of Shelby Township acted as an agent for an appraisal company owned by Lisa Manzella and actually contacted Lisa Manzella’s company on behalf of the property owner to do the appraisal. Lisa Manzella’s company accepted funds in return for a favorable appraisal that lowered the gentleman’s property taxes by over 2600.00. When Jamie Barra came up for disciplinary action for his roll in this scandal by the township board, only Lisa Manzella refused to impose any kind of disciplinary action for Jamie Barra. I believe because Jamie Barra, besides working for the taxpayers also does “favors” for Lisa Manzella by steering work to her company and also does “favors” for certain “paying” property owners. It’s a clear cut case of “breach of public trust” by an elected official and an employee of Shelby Township. It’s documented, it’s factual, it happened… at least once that is documented. I have no clue how often this kind of thing has gone on and even now, Lisa Manzella claimed her company never did appraisals in Shelby Township because it could lead to a possible conflict of interest… then why is this case documented by a police report and township meeting minutes.
felix September 23, 2011 at 02:08 AM
Folks, Please don't believe every thing you hear. Sure there is always a certain truth but it always pays to look for yourself and decide. Please note the comments on crime reduction. Please review the patch article earlier this week and comments at the board meeting identify crime reduction. When I add the columns in the article; it looks like there were 2340 crimes in 2010 and 2205 in 2009. I may have to re-read the article to clarify the detail but it looks like an overall increase of 6%.
felix September 23, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Wow we have an honest comment. the writer indicates she is sad that the chief will be replaced and if she would have voted; she would vote to keep the chief. Well as a member of this community i am sad too. But, frankly i do not know how i would have voted. i only have the information available to the public. I would expect a decision of this gravity includes informaton that is not available to the public. We do not know. I can not imagine these individuals taking such a contriversial position and vote to release the chief with out substance. In these days of legal challenges i would expect careful consideration was given to the matter at hand. This time the board voted. If you agree or disagree you will have the opportunity to vote to support your position in 2012.
felix September 23, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Chief did an outstanding job with the interview in response to the boards vote. He effectively communicated disapointment, frustration and his position. Doors do open and close. This may be an opportunity to ''thank god for unanswered prayers".
disgusted September 23, 2011 at 10:13 AM
How about God is trying to teach Chief to change his ways and he needs to learn from this experience. He allowed alot of bad things to happen to innocent people. He allowed certain bad cops to go around tazering, lying, bullying, etc. innocent people and then he turned his cheek. Time and time again it appeared that he was not a good judge of character. Chief needs to learn and repent for his multiple sins.
disgusted taxpayer September 23, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Hmm. I wonder how the all knowing Matt and "Truthful Enquirer" have information about "the sensitivity of the litigation at hand" when the average taxpayer doesn't. I wonder who is supplying them with information from the board. I feel that the non renewal of Chief Leman's contract was handled very poorly. We, as tax payers, deserve answers to our questions. If there is some underlying problem that requires litigation, the supervisor could have conveyed it to us by simply stating that he knows that the public won't understand the board's actions at this time, but if you can wait a short while-all will be revealed. Or he could have had Huth write a prepared statement for him that states that there is an "ongoing investigation into the managerial operations of the police department". We, as tax payers, are the board of Trustees bosses. We elect them to explain why they make the decisions that they make. When he and Paula Filar make statements about it "being of a private nature" it makes you think they did it in retaliation of the Recall. Who chooses to let their Police Chief go before the Police station that he saved money for is even complete. By the way, PAUL VIAR, did you seriously tell the Chief of Police on camera that he collected too much taxes from the taxpayers???? The last time I checked, the Chief of Police does not collect taxes or set the amount he receives. That is your job as the treasurer. You are a real piece of work!
Matt Guarnieri September 23, 2011 at 04:12 PM
To disgusted taxpayer..... I was looking into any litigation that could include Ken Underwood after Paul Viar's "crooked cop" comment a few meetings ago..... I only know the names of a few officers, so I paid my .08 per page to research them at PACER, a federal court site. I came across a recent filing ( like a month old). I requested the filing paperwork. (It is publicly available). Let's just say... I was blown away.... I suppose it would be legal to copy the paperwork and write a blog to inform the citizens but then... no one would trust the police here..... should I do it? Maybe now that I have explained how, someone else might do it..... to be honest... I don't even know if the township board knows about every federal lawsuit.... but I bet Chief Leman knows.... ask him.
disgusted September 23, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Absolutely!!
Thomas Delise September 24, 2011 at 04:45 AM
Mrs. Filars vote was business as usual.This goes to show who is really pulling the strings in this town.Most of the issues being voted on were decided in retalliation.Most residents are catching on,Stathakis,Viar,Filar and Flynn are burring themselves.While you're digging Matt check out other communities and thier police departments.
disgusted September 24, 2011 at 11:34 AM
Why do you want Matt to check out other communities and their police departments. The issue at hand is the Shelby Police Dept. If other departments have similar problems, it does not make Shelby Police right. They have been out of control for years. It's about time Leman got what he deserved.
Matt Guarnieri September 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM
I sent a FOIA request, let's see who looked me up how often and why.
ShelbyReader September 24, 2011 at 02:27 PM
We just spent $30,000 on a Police Department OPERATIONAL Study. There was nothing in the report about excessive legal problems in the Shelby PD, nothing in the report about any "secret" management lapses by Chief Leman, nor anything in the report about widespread abuse of the LEIN system by police officers. The idea that the Board members who voted against the renewal of the chief's contract had some secret knowledge that they can't share with the public is self-serving baloney. In my opinion, the decision by those Board members to get rid of the chief was political and not in the interest of Shelby citizens. The voters will decide in 2012 whether the current Board acted appropriately or not and no amount of outrageous accusations, unsupported by any evidence, by bloggers is going to change that.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey September 24, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Hey all — some of the comments have been removed because they went against our terms of use. A reminder to please keep the comments on the topic, and please follow our terms.
Matt Guarnieri September 24, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Sorry ShelbyReader but you are out of the loop on this one. The LIEN system and who is investigated would not be part of any study and I doubt OPERATIONAL studies would think to look at "pending" litigation. It's public information. I am thinking this settlement did not happen until after the study was complete and during Leman's leave of absence and like the other "wrongful acts" litigation it is only a complaint until resolved. There is no "found guilty" just a settlement to avoid further discovery, disclosure and criminal investigation.

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