Once a police chief loses credibility, it cannot be restored, a representative of the Bellevue police union said Thursday.
Gary Young, the union’s attorney, held a press conference to respond to the City of Bellevue’s decision to reinstate Chief Mark Elbert after a year of paid leave.
Young said Bellevue’s police officers need a new police chief.
Citing a pattern of “dishonest and deceptive conduct,” members of the Bellevue police union last year voted 72-1 to tell the city administration that they had lost confidence in Elbert.
Elbert had been on paid leave since the vote, but this week, the city announced that he would be reinstated and return to work as the chief later this month.
“Mark Elbert needs to be in a different place where he can build trust with other people because it can’t be done here,” Young said.
The city said in its press release that the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office “did a thorough investigation of the matters” that “found many inconsistencies, lies and misunderstandings of the facts.”
Young said the city appears to be suggesting that Elbert was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Sheriff’s Office, which he said is misleading.
Sarpy County Chief Deputy Sheriff Greg London said in an interview Thursday that the Sheriff’s Office did not reach any conclusions for the City of Bellevue. The Sheriff’s Office role was to conduct the investigation.
“In regards to the Bellevue case, we didn’t offer our opinions, recommendations or input on the findings or policy violations,” London said. “We simply ran the investigation and turned over the documents.”
For the first time, the union on Thursday also released the recordings that were played for the union before last year’s no-confidence vote. The union played excerpts of the conversations but also released a longer version that has more of the conversations.
In the recordings played Thursday, Elbert can be heard agreeing to allow a sergeant who had been seeking a special accommodation to remain on an eight-hour shift and not have to answer his phone after hours.
In exchange, the sergeant can be heard agreeing to drop the formal accommodation request he had made to the city and not to tell his lawyer or the city why it was being dropped.
Elbert said on the recording that he didn’t want anyone to know about the arrangement.
Ted Boecker, Elbert’s attorney, said those snippets of the conversations lack the proper context and are therefore misleading. He said the union had the recordings for months before making them an issue when other litigation started.
A message left for Bellevue City Administrator Joe Mangiamelli was not returned Thursday evening.