By Beth Bily
The second phase of an investigation surrounding allegations made against Coleraine Police Chief Jeff Kuck got a green light from the city council at its Monday meeting.
Kuck had been the subject of an outside investigation launched by city officials following an anonymous complaint. The investigator cleared Kuck of any misconduct. According to a police commission press release on the matter, however, initial data gathering may have resulted in a data practices breach.
Monday’s discussion turned contentious at times as police commission members Dan Dezelske and Mary Drewes argued in favor of continuing the data practices portion of the investigation.
A previous vote on continued investigation took place in a closed city council session on July 2 and resulted in a 2 to 2 deadlock. The dialogue Monday evening took place in somewhat cryptic language because revealing the nature of unfounded charges would violate data practices regulations.
Kuck, who left the meeting angry before the discussion concluded, said the unsubstantiated allegations have had a negative impact on him and his family.
Dezelske went further in his remarks and defense of Kuck. “This is the most horrible thing I can imagine happening in this town. I can’t believe what’s happening here,” he said, adding later that an anonymous allegation should never have prompted an outside investigation.
Mayor Mike Antonovich cast the lone vote in opposition to continuing the investigation. He expressed concern about costs and said completing the first phase should take place before discussing a second. “Let’s finish the first part and then we can talk about the second, that’s all I’m saying,” he said.
Other councilors were supportive.
“I think we owe it to Jeff (Kuck) to finish this,” said Councilor Peggy Smith.
“I don’t think we have any choice (but to continue) now,” added Councilor Ken Smith.
The council voted 4 to 1 to move forward with the second phase of the investigation.
In other business, the council:
• Approved posting “no dumping” signs for Lakeview Boulevard. The city council also discussed gathering more information for a possible new vehicle purchase for the street department.
• Approved posting a 20 mile-per-hour speed limit near the arena from the County Rd. 61 intersection to County Rd. 440 by the softball field.
• Approved the purchase of a new squad camera. Funding will come from the police equipment fund, which will be reimbursed by a grant awarded to the city.
• Authorized Councilor Peggy Smith to work with police commissioners on time card coding issues.
• Passed a motion accepting 15 vacation hours per the outside investigator’s recommendation.
• Passed a motion to swap land with a local resident to clear up a property line issue.
• Listened to an update on Lakeview Blvd. property from resident Jan Mattfield.
• Approved a one-day gambling permit for the Greenway Amateur Hockey Association.