Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey has been restricted from entering city property or having conversations with city employees during an investigation into a personnel matter, City Administrator Dan Berlowitz said Thursday.
The investigation by the City Attorney's Office could take up to a week, Berlowitz said. Stacey was placed on administrative leave Wednesday.
Berlowitz declined to elaborate on what the investigation involved.
According to someone close to the investigation, Stacey allegedly made an inappropriate remark Monday to a person touring the Fire Department.
If Berlowitz decides after the investigation that a penalty is warranted, Stacey could seek a hearing to give his side of the story.
“Obviously we don't want to drag it out. I estimate that this will take about a week,” he said.
Stacey could not be reached for comment.
Capt. Mark Elbert has been appointed acting police chief.
Stacey, a longtime city employee, has been involved in several controversies in Bellevue in recent years.
After Bellevue announced a plan in 2010 to get control of its unlimited vacation bank policy, Stacey was among the managers who continued to accumulate more hours through 2011.
The benefit for city employees had become a significant financial burden for the city and a strain on the city budget.
By last December, Stacey had stockpiled more than 92 weeks of unused vacation, worth more than $183,000.
A few years ago Stacey was involved in a decision to secretly record city employees' phone calls to and from city offices and listen to them later. The case damaged work relationships between employees and city officials.
The practice lasted for more than a year. In 2010 the city agreed to reimburse a group of 35 city union workers $40,000 for legal fees and to take other steps to ensure that employees' phone lines would not be secretly monitored again.
Stacey also was responsible for firing Bellevue Police Officer Christopher Parent for violating part of a department policy requiring officers to maintain a high level of physical conditioning through regular exercise and diet.
Parent's termination was overturned by the courts. The city had to pay Parent more than $103,000 in back pay. Stacey then placed Parent on indefinite paid administrative leave, which cost about $170,000 in salary and benefits without Parent working a single day.
Parent, who retired in January, said he believed his termination and prolonged paid leave came about because “John Stacey has just got some personal issue with me.”
In February, Stacey terminated Police Officer Roger Anderson 40 days before his retirement after a 29-year career in the department. City officials said Anderson failed to follow the chain of command, violated sick leave rules and failed to uphold the department's integrity policy.
Stacey had called Anderson on the carpet for administering a firearms test to Parent, his former colleague. Anderson has appealed his termination. He would lose $200,000 from his pension if his termination is upheld.
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