Mo. chief says he's back; officers call in sick

By Denise Hollinshed
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

BROOKLYN- Police officers in this village, best known for its massage parlors and strip clubs, called in sick Wednesday in apparent retaliation for the reinstatement of Police Chief Harold Johnson.

Earlier, the chief had been placed on administrative leave by village trustees. Now, Johnson said he has been reinstated by Mayor Nathaniel O'Bannon III. The mayor could not be reached for comment.

Johnson said he was investigating several of his own officers and some of the village trustees.

Village Trustee Pamela Calvert, on the other hand, said the board was investigating the chief - and trying to account for about $10,000 in missing funds.

"Specifically, he was placed on leave until he produced some information," said Trustee Pamela Calvert, referring to Johnson.

Part of that information involved producing a receipt for money spent investigating three village trustees and four police officers.

"I couldn't produce what they wanted at the time," Johnson said.

Calvert said that she was unaware that Johnson was back on the job.

"I did not know he was reinstated," she said. "I have not seen any information he was supposed to produce."

In the meantime, Calvert said, she planned to contact the mayor. "I believe there should be a definite immediate reaction to this," she said. "There has to be. Our officers should be comfortable when they come to work. There should be some course of action taken."

Johnson was the lone officer on the street Wednesday afternoon in the village, which had 676 residents according to the 2000 census. The department has 11 officers, including the chief. Five of the officers are full time.

Johnson said he was reinstated by the mayor Tuesday and it took effect Wednesday.

Johnson said the "blue flu" resulted when his officers learned he was investigating them for frequenting the local strips clubs on and off duty.

Johnson also said he filed a complaint with the board against trustee Ruby Mattox for working in one of the strip clubs - The Bottoms Up. But he said he has heard nothing of that complaint.

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