There is more scandal in the Romulus Police Department. There are allegations that officers were buying sex with public money, and now the former chief has been arrested.
FOX 2's Charlie LeDuff reports that details are sketchy at the moment and the arraignment of several Romulus police officers has been postponed until Tuesday.
Outgoing Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre, his wife and five officers were arrested Monday following a three year investigation into the department by Michigan State Police.
The exact charges are currently unclear, but we can tell you that it has to do with the misappropriation of public funds.
Last March, State Police raided St. Andre's home and his wife's tanning salon and took computers.
Also, the chief, a 28 year veteran of the department, is said to have okayed the use of public money on prostitutes by undercover officers conducting an investigation at The Landing Strip gentleman's club.
The scandal even has the manager of The Landing Strip annoyed.
"Bring your own money, of course. Spend your own money. That's the way to do it. Don't spend other people's money. Spend your own money," said Has Murray.
"Very shocking," said current Romulus Police Chief Robert Dickerson. "This was the culmination of a three year investigation by the Michigan State Police and the FBI, and, unfortunately for the six, today was D-Day."
Dickerson was asked whether this was an indictment on Romulus or the police department.
"Absolutely not," he responded. "The Romulus Police Department is not under indictment right now. It's the individuals that are under indictment."
"To get news like this of charges, I mean it hurts. It hurts all of them. What I'm hoping is that from this point forward, at least we know what we're faced with. There are charges brought. We believe in a judicial system. They are innocent until proven guilty," said Romulus Mayor Pro-Tem Leroy Burcroff. "We have a new chief and he's tasked with rebuilding. That's what we're looking forward to doing. So, yes, it's a devastating day for us."
"Have faith in your government. Have faith in your public safety. It won't be tolerated. It hasn't been. If there's something that was done wrong, it will get rooted out. Justice will be served, and we need to rally as a community rather than, right now, be discouraged and throw stones."
"Being the mayor of a city, I have a lot of different departments that I have to take care of on a daily basis, and I have department heads that I depend on to make sure those departments are being run, and, obviously, that wasn't happening through my police chief," said Romulus Mayor Alan Lambert. "They can have faith in their police department because this isn't about Romulus Police Department or anything. It's about individual officers who State Police and the FBI believe committed a crime. So, I want people to know that they're safe, that they have a good police department. The remaining people here I have a lot of faith in."
"Now that the investigation's over, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Sorry some officers got charged, but if they committed crimes, then shame on them."
The following press release was issued late last week by the current Romulus Police Chief, Robtert Dickerson:
ROMULUS - Four Romulus police officers have been suspended without pay for 30 days for "conduct unbecoming of an officer" in connection with their roles in an undercover operation.
The names of the officers and the specific details behind the behavior that led to their discipline have not been released, in accordance with city personnel rules and restrictions within the police officers' collective bargaining agreement.
New Chief of Police Robert Dickerson, who took the action against the officers, said "that all four police officers suspended today violated the Police Officers Standards of Conduct by overstepping their authority while engaging in conduct unbecoming of a police officer while working on an undercover investigation."
Dickerson was appointed Romulus chief of police on Monday by Mayor Alan R. Lambert. The new chief, a retired 25-year veteran of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, has extensive experience in handling matters involving police discipline.
He succeeded Michael St. Andre, a 28-year Romulus officer who had been chief during a long investigation into the Police Department by the Michigan State Police. St. Andre submitted a letter of resignation on September 13, citing illnesses of his son and wife.
Romulus Mayor Alan R. Lambert said the suspensions stemmed from the city's own internal investigation that he initiated after reviewing police reports that came to light during the inquiry into Romulus police matters by the State Police.
"While cooperating with the State Police, we discovered some documents that showed our officers participated in some questionable behavior," Mayor Lambert said. "I became very concerned and discussed the situation first with Chief St. Andre, who assured me that the officers acted appropriately.
"I continued to have concerns about the officers' behavior because the specific conduct that was alleged to have occurred by these officers still appeared to me to be both inappropriate and possibly illegal. One of the first things I tasked the new chief was to review and investigate this highly unusual situation so I could gain some perspective. He agreed the actions were inappropriate and we took it upon ourselves to discipline the officers. We concluded that these four officers should be immediately suspended without pay."
Chief Dickerson expressed disappointment with the former chief for condoning the questionable behavior of the four officers as well as for his lack of oversight as it relates to this particular investigation.
"Unfortunately, the four suspended police officers reported directly to the former chief on all of their investigations and, by doing so, received minimal supervision and direction," Chief Dickerson said. "However, that didn't give them the right to engage in this manner."
Mayor Lambert, who is a former police officer, said: "I support Chief Dickerson's findings and actions taken today and I'm hopeful this sends a message that is loud and clear that our police officers are to be held to a higher standard and cannot engage in irresponsible, dangerous and reckless behaviors on or off duty. Inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated within the Romulus Police Department."
WJBK-TV | Fox 2
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