Bellevue police chief sues union president and attorney
BELLEVUE, Neb. (AP) — A suburban Omaha police chief who was recently cleared to return to work after a year-long paid leave that followed a no-confidence vote from the city’s police union is suing the union’s president and attorney, saying they made false claims about him.
Bellevue Police Chief Mark Elbert filed a lawsuit against the police union’s attorney, Gary Young, and his law firm. Elbert is also suing Jim Maguire, president of the Nebraska chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Elbert said Wednesday that he’s not allowed to discuss personnel matters and therefore can’t address the specifics of the union’s claims against him, but that he’ll get his day in court and plans to file more lawsuits.
“I look forward to the day when this can be discussed freely and openly,” Elbert said. “In the meantime, I’ll just keep taking the heat.”
Elbert returned to work Sept. 20 after the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice determined there was no merit to the allegations. The union alleged that Elbert had ordered a sergeant to deceive department members and had hidden information from the city administration.
In his lawsuits, Elbert alleges that the defendants made statements that are “libelous, slanderous, defamatory and entirely false.” He said the police union and those involved are “concocting and orchestrating” a narrative by cherry-picking information to release.
Elbert returned to the force last week. Since then, a new citizens group has addressed the City Council in opposition of his reinstatement and a police sergeant has filed a lawsuit against the city.
Sgt. Robert Bailey is suing the city over allegations that Elbert failed to accommodate his health problems in 2015 and that the police chief coerced and intimidated him. The state’s Equal Opportunity Commission dismissed Bailey’s complaint over the matter last year.
Young, the union’s attorney and a defendant in Elbert’s lawsuit, said morale in the Bellevue Police department is low because Elbert was reinstated.
“They’re in a position where they have to work for somebody that they do not respect and who has a serious integrity problem in their minds,” he said.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com