Bellevue’s city administrator confirmed Thursday that Police Chief John Stacey has been placed on paid administrative leave because of an inappropriate comment Stacey made on Monday.
The comment was made in front of city employees at a city fire station. City Administrator Dan Berlowitz would not say which fire station it happened at, nor would he say anything about the nature of the comment. “The most I can tell you, it's based upon an incident of potential misconduct.”
Channel 6 News has learned through other sources that Stacey made a remark perceived as inappropriate, like something you’d hear in a locker room.
Berlowitz and several City Council members gathered Thursday morning for a closed door meeting regarding Chief Stacey. Berlowitz said an inquiry by the city attorney should take about a week.
"Once it's completed, then of course there will be a report provided to me on their findings and then of course based upon that I'll have to make a decision as to any permanent disciplinary action would be taken,” said Berlowitz. Or possibly no further action.
Stacey will have the ability to challenge the outcome if it's unfavorable. “Chief Stacey does fall into the state's Civil Service Act and would have the ability to request a hearing before me, at which time he'd have the ability to present his side of the story if there's a necessity to do that," said Berlowitz.
Stacey, who has been with the Bellevue Police Department for more than 30 years and chief for eight years, has also served as a volunteer firefighter for Bellevue. For the time being, he is not allowed in city facilities, nor can he talk to city employees while the allegations against him are investigated.
Chief Stacey told Channel 6 News from his home that he was surprised by the investigation, but is “hanging in there.” Berlowitz asked him not to make any comments while the investigation is underway.
Capt. Mark Elbert has been named acting chief. “I expect Mark, Acting Chief Elbert, to continue to operate the department without any, you know, missing a step,” said Berlowitz. “Obviously, we have a function to fulfill.”