The Cincinnati Enquirer (Ohio)
BYLINE: By, Quan Truong
Lincoln Heights, OH
LINCOLN HEIGHTS - At the urging of the police chief, the village of Lincoln Heights will be paying for a third party to come in and audit the police department - a crucial and telling move for an agency that recently fired two police sergeants in a financial scandal.
Chief Ron Twitty would not elaborate on the department's problems, only saying the situation there has been "challenging."
He submitted a letter to the village manager in late December, pushing for an audit to provide "a road map for the management team of where to go from here and why."
Earlier that month, the state released a special audit on Lincoln Heights showing that more than $8,600 went missing from the police department's evidence room and bank accounts under the supervision of three former police chiefs.
One of the former chiefs, Earnest McCowen, was already retired. The other two, Sandra Stevenson and DeAngelo Sumler, were working as police sergeants and fired in March.
Stevenson is now trying to get her job back, appealing her termination in Hamilton County's Court of Common Pleas.
Arguments in court have been scheduled for Oct. 19.
Stevenson claims the village fired her on the basis of the special state audit and never asked for her side of the story, according to court documents. She alleged that she never had access to the police evidence room.
Stevenson couldn't be reached for comment and Village Manager Robert Bannister said he couldn't talk about pending litigation.
Meanwhile, the village is looking at 15 bids ranging from $11,000 to just under $25,000 for the management audit, which will take about 90 days to complete. The money will come from Lincoln Heights' police budget.
Twitty said the move is necessary, comparing it to the foundation that needs to be built before constructing a house.
"If you try to change an organization, you'll get a lot of resistance and pushback if people in the department don't understand why you're doing it," he said. "Having an objective, professional eye is more constructive than Ron Twitty coming in and telling people what to do."
Village Council members will meet in September to discuss the bids.
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