Report Clears Fla. Police Chief of All Allegations; Union Expected Investigation


Orlando Sentinel (Florida)

A report released Tuesday night dismissed allegations that police Chief Clarence Bass was untruthful with the City Council and fosters an environment of intimidation and favoritism as "emotional and personal feelings."

John McCollister, the investigator hired by the city to write the report, said he was convinced that while the chief "can be gruff and impatient," there is no evidence to substantiate any wrongdoing or justify his firing.

"When it comes to proving allegations against the chief, the investigator echoes the words of the late actress Clara Peller, who in the famous television commercial asked: 'Where's the beef?' " McCollister wrote.

Bass, who has managed the department of 11 full-time officers and five reserve officers for 11 years, did not answer any questions after the report was given.

An attorney for the police union said the report was "short on details."

"This is not what we expected," said Lawrence Collins, the union's attorney. "For some reason we expected an investigation. The [union] does not manufacture issues. There are real problems in the management of the Police Department."

Others in the audience questioned why there wasn't a further probe into some issues such as why the chief did not take action sooner after he was alerted that one officer made racial slurs on the job. That officer was demoted after the issue was raised publicly by the union.

McCollister issued 14 recommendations for the city to consider including, "Live in the present, not in the past" and "Let the chief and his staff do their jobs." He also urged the creation of a citizens advisory board, ombudsman and suggested that the city's paid staff and elected officials be prohibited from talking to the media.

McCollister, who listed his experience as a federal arbitrator and state special master who has conducted more than 600 hearings, refused to answer questions from citizens or reporters about his report.

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