Report on police chief kept private

The Detroit News

March 20, 2000 Monday No dot Edition

SECTION: METRO; Pg. 4C

Justice Department asks that investigation be sealed until it completes its own probe

BYLINE: Mike Martindale

OXFORD -- A report on questionable activities of former Oxford Police Chief Gary Ford will not be released to the public until the Department of Justice reviews it and completes its own separate probe, officials said.

The 20-page report was submitted Wednesday, but Lisa Brantley, chairwoman of the Oxford Police, Fire and EMS Commission, said the Oxford group was honoring a request made by Justice officials in the Chicago office.

"It wasn't an order, it was a request and we've decided to cooperate," Brantley said Friday. "We don't want to jeopardize a pending investigation or expose the commission to liability."

Federal officials could not be reached for comment. Brantley said the only thing she was aware of that the Justice Department was looking into was the questioned expenditure and repayment of more than $500,000 in federal community police grant money.

Attorney Allen Wolf, a special investigator hired by the commission last year, would not comment on the report. He reviewed 44 allegations of misconduct by Ford and turned up only two incidents of potential criminal wrongdoing: inflated billing invoices to The Detroit News and Free Press for police protection during the newspaper strike and solicited donations for an annual police recognition event at a local golf course that was cancelled.

Information on both incidents has been sent to the Michigan State Police and the FBI.

Ford went on paid medical leave for undisclosed reasons last April and never returned. He was informed last November his services would not be needed after Dec. 31 when the 12-member police force was disbanded.

Ford had since filed a bill seeking more than $30,000 in severance pay, attorney fees and other expenses.

What's next

The Oxford Police, Fire and EMS Commission has ordered its attorney to submit copies of a special investigator's report of alleged misconduct by a former police chief to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The commission's next meeting is April 19.