Marion Police Chief warns staff against talking about harassment

MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - Marion's outgoing police chief reminded his staff not to retaliate against anyone who files a harassment complaint and that includes talking to anyone outside the City.

The Marion Police Department on Wednesday. Police leaders have met and worked on future police strategies the last two days.

That reminder comes as the city is in the middle of what it calls a personnel investigation. The city hired an outside attorney Fran Haas, who specializes in Title iX investigations involving discrimination and harassment.

The city, however, has repeatedly told TV9 it will never publicly release what is being investigated or findings of that investigation, citing it as a private personnel matter.

"I would hope that they (the public) would realize that anytime you're dealing with a personnel decision in any department that we have a responsibility to make sure that we do it right," City Manager Lon Pluckhahn told TV9 this week when asked why the city will not share any of the investigation's details or findings.

The policy reminder warns against retaliation against harassment complaints, including "any type of adverse treatment or action that under the circumstances might well dissuade a reasonable person from engaging in protected activity, like making a discrimination or harassment complaint or participating in a discrimination or harassment investigation."

It goes on to warn against talking to anyone outside of city staff about harassment cases.

"Employees should not share confidential personnel information learned through their employment with anyone outside the City of Marion," the memo states. "Sharing such confidential personnel information would likely dissuade reasonable complainants and witnesses from making complaints, and therefore could be construed as retaliatory."

The investigation is happening as two top administrators are leaving the Marion Police Department. Marion's Police Chief, Joe McHale, is set to leave June 3rd for a consulting job in Florida. Deputy Chief Doug Slagle also resigned, effective in July. The city has told TV9 neither departure is connected to the investigation but refused to release a copy of either of their resignation letters, again citing it as a confidential personnel record.