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Musk. Hts. PD condition 'embarrassing'
BYLINE: Leon Hendrix
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Muskegon Heights, MI

The Muskegon Heights Police Department, April 29, 2009
<em>The Muskegon Heights Police Department, April 29, 2009</em>

Memos obtained by 24 Hour News 8

2010-06-23_Musk_ Hts_PD condition_embarrassing_02MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) - In a memo, the former interim police chief of the Muskegon Heights Police Department said he would be embarrassed to hand the police department over to a new chief in the state it was in.

The memo was one of several documents 24 Hour News 8 obtained from the city of Muskegon Heights using the Freedom of Information Act.

The evidence room was addressed in three of the memos sent from Interim Chief Ron Rake to City Manager Natasha Henderson.

It appears Rake had been working on solutions for the evidence room since January.

In a memo sent Jan. 12, Rake proposed the city hire an evidence room technician, citing other departments in the state that do the same. He suggested the person in that position work alongside a police officer to handle the evidence.

In the letter, Rake said he had contacted the police officer's union and they said they would not contest the creation of the proposed position that would not have been filled by a police officer.

2010-06-23_Musk_ Hts_PD condition_embarrassing_03Rake told 24 Hour News 8 the position was never filled.

The officer appointed to be in charge of the room is the officer whose home was searched by state police looking for evidence in the department's corruption investigation.

On March 24, Rake sent another memo to the city manager, notifying her of changes in officer assignments.

In that memo, Rake said he was moving one of the department's lieutenants to a different shift, in part, so he could "...learn and direct the processing of evidence and other property stored in the evidence room."

Rake concluded that letter stating "...our evidence room and some storage areas are in dire need of attention and I would be embarrassed to hand the police department over to the new chief of police in the condition they are in."

Shortly after sending that memo, Rake resigned as the interim chief and asked Michigan State Police to investigate.

Wednesday evening, Rake, who is now a deputy with the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department, said he is surprised he has not yet been contacted by state police investigators. He would not discuss details of the investigation, honoring an agreement he made with the city when he resigned.

Since 24 Hour News 8 began looking into this situation, the city of Muskegon Heights has not returned phone calls or answered questions about the investigation.

The city also has failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests appropriately.

After attorneys for WOOD-TV contacted the city, 24 Hour News 8 received some of the documents requested.

24 Hour News 8 continues to work with its attorneys and the city to get more information about what happened and what's being done to fix it.

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