Council hears complaints on police chief
by Rachel Davis
Dec 31, 2013 | 3026 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OAKMAN — The Oakman City Council held its December meeting on Monday night, where it heard from Erica Martin and her mother, Christy Shirley.

The women appeared in front of the council to complain that Police Chief Andy Powell took Martin’s gun and refused to return it. According to Martin, Powell came to her house almost two months ago and took the gun as evidence.

To date, no criminal charges have been filed against Martin. She said that Powell had asked her and her husband to sell him the gun. She also claimed that Powell had taken the gun home with him rather than placing it in evidence at the police station. Powell apparently confirmed to Mayor Dennis Welch that he had taken the gun from Martin, but denied the other parts of the story and said the gun was in the evidence locker in the police department.

Council members asked for time to investigate the allegations and rectify the situation.

“We hear your complaint, we understand it and we will do the right thing,” Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harvey assured them.

Despite the fact that the incident apparently occurred almost two months ago, Welch said he just became aware of the situation on Sunday night and asked Martin to fill out a written complaint at city hall so he could address the situation. Martin apparently complied with that request Monday.

“Yesterday was the first time I heard anything substantial about this,” Welch said. “How can we fix it if we don’t know about it.”

Martin said the situation had caused her to lose custody of her 4-year-old son and caused problems within her family.

The council expressed sympathy, but said there was nothing they could do regarding a custody hearing.

Martin became upset and left the council chamber, but Shirley remained and asked that the council suspend Powell during the investigation. The council again asked that they be given time to investigate the claim and added that they could not discuss any potential employee discipline publicly.

Powell was not in attendance at the council meeting.

In other business:

•Magistrate Joseph Thomas addressed the council about the state of the municipal court system. The court’s revenue for the last six months of the year (since Thomas became magistrate) was approximately triple what it was in the first six months of the year. Thomas also told the council that most of the city’s backlog has been cleared at this time.

•The council also discussed surplussing various pieces of city equipment and vehicles.