City leaders mum on BCPD officials’ suit

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Battle Creek city commissioners met for the first time Tuesday since two police department leaders who have been placed on administrative leave filed suit against the city, the mayor, the interim city manager and the interim chief of police.

Mayor David Walters did not want to answer questions from 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday night at the commission meeting.

“Just no comment at this time, OK,” he said.

Interim City Manager Susan Bedsole also declined to comment.

“Again, no comment means no comment. It just really isn’t important for us to speak to the merits at this time,” she said.

Both Walters and Bedsole are named in the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court by two high-ranking Battle Creek Police Department officials who were placed on paid administrative leave in March.

The suit on behalf of by Deputy Chief Jim Saylor and Inspector Maria Alonso claims they were put on leave as targets of a vendetta from the mayor and that the suspension ruined their careers.

Inside Details of the lawsuit

The city said said in early March that Saylor and Alonso were put on leave because of “an alleged personal relationship that may have created a hostile work environment, thereby having a negative impact on the department and its personnel.”

The pair says that announcement constituted public defamation and the suspension effectively ruined their careers with BCPD.

In the suit, the pair says they did not engage in a romantic relationship until after both were divorced, and that they had it approved by former police chief Jackie Hampton and former city manager Ken Tsuchiyama. The suit claims the pair was told the relationship was OK because Alonso did not report directly to Saylor.

They allege Walters and other city officials pushed Tsuchiyama to resign and encouraged putting them on leave because they recommended in 2013 that Walters’ son, a BCPD officer, be fired.

The city commission did not talk about the lawsuit publicly Tuesday night. Commissioners did go into a closed door session to talk about an unidentified legal matter.

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