Omaha suburb gives police chief paid leave for 11 months
BELLEVUE, Neb. (AP) — The police chief in a southern suburb of Omaha is still being paid even though he hasn’t been to work in nearly 11 months.
Bellevue Police Chief Mark Elbert has received $108,285 since he was put on leave in September after receiving a no-confidence vote from the police union, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The city also continued to cover Elbert’s benefits and has paid nearly $25,000 in legal fees regarding his case.
“People are not happy,” Councilman Paul Cook said.
The union told the mayor, city administrator and City Council that it had lost confidence in Elbert because of a pattern of “dishonest and deceptive conduct.”
The union alleged Elbert tried to coerce union members to change the results of qualifications testing and evaluations. The organization also said it had audio recordings of Elbert telling a member of the Bellevue Police Department to hide information from the city and other department officials.
Elbert has said the allegations are false and make “gross mischaracterizations.” He asked to be placed on leave while he’s investigated.
Elbert released a statement saying that he “wishes to return to his official duties as soon as possible and would have hoped to have this process concluded months ago.”
Many Bellevue officials said they’re uncertain why Elbert’s leave has dragged on for months.
Councilman Don Preister said he understands taxpayers’ concerns about the growing costs as Elbert’s investigation is conducted. But he said it’s a personnel issue that the city council can’t easily resolve.
“It’s someone’s life and career here at stake,” said Mayor Rita Sanders. “Even though I’d love it go faster, it can’t.”
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com