NEW ALBANY —
If efforts were made within the department to disparage Schook’s performance history, a factor that can affect an officer’s overall ranking leading up to a promotion, her other attributes got the attention of the merit commission.
Merit Commission President Eddie Hodges said Schook was at the top of the list for officers up for promotion in 2013. Hodges said the commission recommended Schook to Knight for promotion before the end of last year.
“They [NAPD administrators] came to us, I believe it was in December, and said we need a corporal, so we gave them a name [Schook]. Then they came in January and said, they couldn’t do it because [New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan] froze hiring and promotion, and that is all I know about it,” he said.
When Hodges, who has 10 years with the merit commission, was asked if it appeared odd to him that the department would not promote a person when they had made a request for a promotion a month earlier, he said, “With what is going on at present, I really don’t want to comment on that right now.”
After the merit commission meeting, the board went into executive session and discussed Schook’s claims of misconduct and the lack of a proper investigation.
“There is nothing resolved, as of yet. It is going to be a process,” Hodges said after the executive session. “We came to the conclusion there is a lot of work ahead.”
After the merit commission executive session had adjourned Thursday, the mayor’s office released a statement about 10:30 p.m. on Knight’s behalf and in response to Schook’s comments during the meeting.
“The New Albany Police Department absolutely denies any allegations of misconduct,” Knight says in the press release. “The New Albany Police Department has operated and will continue to operate in an efficient and ethical manner. The complaints of officer Schook were fully investigated and resolved in 2008 and 2010 when the original complaints were filed. The Department welcomes the review by the New Albany Police Merit Commission.”
NAPD Sgt. John Hall, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99, attended the merit council meeting Thursday, but said after the meeting the union is not representing Schook, at this time, as she has sought private counsel.
“We are monitoring everything that is going on,” Hall said of Schook’s grievances. “Some of the stuff, I have been ordered by the chief [Knight] not to talk about, other than we have not been asked for representation by officer Schook.”
Hall said he would have to defer questions related to Schook’s claims to her or Knight because he can not discuss personnel matters.
Attempts made Friday by the News and Tribune to contact Knight and Gahan were unsuccessful. Phone calls placed to Humphrey at work and at his restaurant Thursday were not returned. A call to Tucker at work Friday was not returned.