Marion police union votes 'no confidence' in their administration

Published: Jun. 6, 2019 at 5:29 PM CDT
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Officers in the Marion Police Department collectively told the city they are unhappy with how the department is running.

In the midst of a secret internal investigation, Marion's police union gave the I9 investigative team a copy of a no-confidence vote against the police administration.

The vote came against now former Marion Police Chief Joseph McHale, who left the department this week for a job in the private sector, Deputy Chief Doug Slagle has also resigned effective July 5th, and Administrative Manager Shellene Gray.

The vote of no confidence came after Chief McHale and Deputy Chief Slagle had already handed in their resignations. The union said it still held the vote to make a point.

The city of Marion has still not said why it hired an outside attorney that specializes in sexual harassment and discrimination cases to investigate the police department but the vote and a letter from the union show it matters to the officers.

One day before the police union delivered its no-confidence vote, City Manager Lon Pluckhahn told I9 the public will never know what triggered the taxpayer-funded investigation or what it found.

"We just have a policy that we don't talk about those things," said Pluckhahn.

The police union delivered a letter to city leaders voicing no confidence in the top police administrators, questioning their desire to have a safe work environment. It says the vote is "an important display of unity by members of this union against the events that have occurred."

Former Chief McHale disagrees with the union's point of view. In a letter McHale sent this week to city officials he said their statement is "without merit and baseless."

McHale also suggested he inherited problems from the previous chief, saying the department, "was lacking a chain of command and procedures to ensure equitable treatment of its employees."

McHale went on to accuse the union of being "complicit" in creating a "hostile" work environment and of trying to "intimidate and disrupt" his administration's efforts to investigate a personnel issue."

McHale reiterated the he only reason he left the department was because of the new job opportunity. Slagle also says he left for personal reasons. The city has insisted neither resignation is connected to the internal investigation.

I9 reached out to Marion's mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly and every member of the city council for comment on the no confidence vote but only Abouassally responded, telling us through a spokesperson for the city that he has "full faith" in the city manager.

In a statement, Pluckhahn reiterated it will never release details of the internal investigation and said the union's vote was "based on assumptions and incomplete information".