News and Tribune

Floyd County

July 11, 2014

Gahan: Residents should support the New Albany Police Department

Bailey reviewing operations of department

NEW ALBANY — Though an investigation of past incidents is ongoing, residents should be comfortable with their police department, New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said Friday.

He praised the professionalism of the more than 60 officers that comprise the department, and credited recently appointed Chief Todd Bailey for his goal-oriented approach.

“We have a group of hard working officers out there, and they’re dedicated to providing a public service that is both friendly and consistent,” Gahan said.

May was a trying month for the NAPD.

Officer Laura Schook — a 19-year veteran of the department — announced she will be seeking $500,000 and a promotion through tort claims based on allegations dating back to 2010. Schook said then-Maj. Sherri Knight exposed her claims that fellow officers were working on personal business while on the clock for NAPD, and thus she was alienated by the department.

Knight was appointed chief by Gahan in 2012, but stepped down from the post in May. Some officials claimed the police union pressured Gahan into forcing Knight to resign, but the union and Gahan haven’t confirmed what took place.

After Bailey was appointed, the administration announced it had requested the Indiana State Police investigate Schook’s claims.

“That process is underway, and as soon as they complete the process, we’ll have the report and we’ll share it with everyone,” Gahan said.

In the meantime, the community should trust that the NAPD will continue to serve and protect them, he continued.

“The city of New Albany is very fortunate because we have a group of well-trained men and women that use thoughtful judgment day in and day out,” Gahan said.

The allegations involving Schook date back to almost two years before Gahan took office, and a few months before Bailey was first appointed as chief. Former Mayor Doug England selected him for the post in October 2010, and he served as chief until being succeeded by Knight.

One of Bailey’s most notable efforts during his initial tenure was the Problem Oriented Policing, or POP, program that he brought to the city’s Midtown neighborhood. The goal of POP was to focus police resources on areas where crime was high. The program subsequently ended after Knight was named chief.

Bailey said this week there are no long-term plans to introduce another POP effort in New Albany, but the department and command staff have several plans that are being prepared to better serve the community, he continued.

“We’re utilizing our technology and data to better address public service,” Bailey said.

He told the New Albany Merit Commission on Thursday that he’s reviewed several programs in the department “to ensure that we’re doing things in an intelligent way.”

Bailey said NAPD supervisors were asked to provide goals for each shift, and those objectives will be used to help shape a new mission statement for the department. Once those goals are finely tuned, the city will be sharing them with the public as well, Gahan said.

The merit commission is responsible for hiring, promotions and discipline, while the mayor has the authority to select the department’s command staff.

The New Albany City Council appropriates the funds to foot the department, but Council President Pat McLaughlin said the legislative body of the city shouldn’t be overly concerned with the operations of the NAPD.

“It’s pretty much in the administration’s hands,” he said. “I think we’ve got a very good department. Being so close to a large city like Louisville, there’s times we’re called upon to do things other communities our size aren’t accustomed to.”

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