CHAMPAIGN — An internal investigation of the Champaign Police Department by City Manager Steve Carter found, among other things, problems with the way some police department employees have been treated.
The report was given to city council members Tuesday and publicly released this morning.
One finding by Carter is that, "In some cases, employees were not treated consistently with city values and this has contributed to a perception of unfairness."
Another finding: "Distrust has developed among employees; which is impacting the department in many ways."
Meanwhile, Champaign Deputy Police Chief Holly Nearing will serve as interim Chief of Police beginning Dec. 5, until a new Champaign police chief is chosen, Carter said.
The decision to appoint an interim chief was made "to assure a stable leadership transition and maintain a high level of responsive service to the community, allowing Chief R.T. Finney to use accumulated leave time prior to his retirement date of January 20, 2012," according to a news release from Carter.
Carter was unavailable for further comment Wednesday morning.
Nearing is a 29-year veteran of the police department, now serving as deputy chief of professional standards. She is the accreditation manager, and is responsible for internal affairs, citizen complain, training, evidence, front desk and records. Her first five years were as a patrol officer, then six years as a detective.
She became deputy chief in 2007.
She is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and holds a master's degree in public administration from Governor States University and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Illinois.
Carter said he would working closely with Nearing and the police management team "to address internal issues that were recently raised in an anonymous email sent to city officials" in August. In response to the email, Carter said, he directed the police and human resources departments to "research all issues, document the facts and provide a written report in response."
Carter issued a report to city council members on Tuesday that calls for changes to the police department's promotional processes and to build more open communication in the department.
His report said there is "no indication of any wrongdoing" with regard to a 2008 lieutenant's promotional exam process, and that changes made to the process in 2011 should be revised. For example, an employee's past performance appraisal ratings should be included and candidates should be able to participate in the assessment process.
But perhaps the most damning portion of Carter's report was that employees were not treated fairly and that distrust is a problem.
"Throughout my interviews," Carter wrote, "a number of police personnel described situations of disrespect and lack of fair process when employees raised issues within the department. These situations get communicated within the department and have contributed to a developing perception of favoritism and differential treatment. While these situations are not widespread, they are impacting working relationships within the department."
Carter also wrote that distrust has developed and "is impacting the department in many ways. As a result of these events, employee distrust is building and hard feelings are negatively impacting employees' ability to work effectively together. The public attention on these issues has further contributed to divisiveness within the department."
The city manager said that during stressful times, including departmental budget cuts and organization changes, "conflict is to be expected and will take some time to work through."
"I came away from my meetings with employees encouraged about the future of the department," Carter wrote. "We have excellent men and women who want to excel in their careers and want their department to function as a high performance police department, earning the respect of their peers and the community."