GEORGETOWN — A Georgetown police officer will be back on duty now that he has been cleared of misconduct by the Indiana State Police.
At a special meeting Thursday, the Georgetown Town Council announced the reinstatement of Sgt. Charles Morgan. Chief Denny Kunkel remains on paid administrative leave.
“We have been given notice by ISP that Charlie Morgan has been cleared," council member Kathy Haller said in a statement at the beginning of a meeting. "Given that, I make a motion that we take him off of paid leave and allow [council president] Everett [Pullen] to sign a letter of reinstatement.”
Council members then made the move official, with Morgan also signing the document. The letter designates a return date of Oct. 14, with Pullen noting Morgan could be back on duty a "little before then," if he so chooses.
“I think it’s good," Pullen said of the reinstatement. "That’s what this was all about — to find out what was going on. He was cleared, so now it's back to work."
Morgan had been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 11, when the council announced an investigation into accusations of misconduct against him and Kunkel. The Indiana State Police Special Investigation Section confirmed that it was handling the investigation, with the State Board of Accounts also informing the News and Tribune that it had received information from Georgetown officials regarding possible misappropriation of funds in September.
"I'm happy just to be back," Morgan told the News and Tribune after Thursday's meeting. "Prior to this, I had nothing to worry about anyways, but it just feels good to be back."
In the 29 days since the probe was launched, Morgan said he had little communication with any of the investigating entities. He also noted that he has not received any information regarding the accusations made against him and Kunkel.
"The only communication that I had was on the initial meeting with the town," he said. "Other than that, I hadn't talked to any representative from the town. I coordinated through my attorney, who then coordinated through the town's attorney. I had communication with the ISP on one day."
Attorney Dustin White, who has represented Morgan throughout the process, said a town ordinance — G-19-16 — outlines a "policeman's bill of rights." According to that ordinance, an officer who is under investigation is entitled to a copy of the complaint made against them.
"After looking through the town ordinances, I have requested a copy of the allegations — a statement of what the issues were," White said. "To date, I have not received that. I will be pursuing that."
But town attorney Kristi Fox said that the ordinance does not pertain to situations like the one involving Morgan and Kunkel. The ordinance, she said, deals with internal investigations and disciplinary action, neither of which come into play with the matter at hand. Fox added that the leave on which the two officers were placed was administrative, not disciplinary.
"I don't think that it meshes up with what is going on here in particular," Fox said. "Right now, we do not have any sort of disciplinary action that has been brought or done. This is administrative, based on an investigation by ISP, which is an external — not internal — unit."
White, however, sees it a different way, since he believes the ISP is acting on behalf of the town. Morgan, he added, would "just like to know what's going on."
"Because it was the top officers that are involved in this, they have to go to an outside agency," White said. "I believe if you look at the statute when it talks about police agencies, it includes the state police if they're doing an investigation on behalf of the town."
The investigation into Morgan and Kunkel came amid speculation that the Georgetown Town Council intended to dismantle the Georgetown Police Department in favor of contracting out police services with the Floyd County Sheriff's Department. Though town officials have denied any such plans, WDRB reported that it had received a copy of email correspondence between Sheriff Frank Loop and Fox last week.
The emails were said to include discussions of a potential contract. The News and Tribune has yet to independently confirm the contents of the messages, but a record's request has been submitted to the Floyd County Sheriff's Department.