Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Elkhart police officer faces disciplinary action after lying to supervisors
Posted on July 9, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 9, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.

ELKHART — An Elkhart police officer faces a 35-day suspension as disciplinary action after the police department determined he had failed to follow procedure and that he lied to his supervisors.

Patrolman Cory Newland is scheduled for a hearing on July 23 before the Elkhart Board of Public Safety. He has five days to decide if he wants a hearing.

Police Chief Dale Pflibsen recommended the lengthy suspension based on Newland’s actions on May 10. The board could opt for alternative disciplinary measures.

According to documents filed with the board of public safety, Newland was dispatched May 10 to an apartment in response to a domestic disturbance. The officer talked with the victim, who told him her husband had hit her in front of her children.

Newland found the husband, who was hiding in the closet in the residence, and took him away from the scene but did not arrest him. Another officer who was called to the scene found that the victim had marks on her face from where the husband had hit her and asked Newland why he hadn’t arrested the husband for battery.

After the incident, Newland was interviewed by his supervisors and he denied having heard from the victim that she had been battered and instead said the man and woman were just pushing each other.

Several minutes after the interview was over Newland returned and admitted that the victim had told him she was hit, and that “he made a poor judgment call by not following up on the victim’s statement,” according to the files.

The police department’s report to the board of public safety says Newland violated two general orders from the police department, by failing to follow procedures that are mentioned in training seminar, and by failing to be truthful when communicating with his superior officers.

Newland attended a training seminar in January at which he was taught how to handle domestic disturbances. The standard procedure in these cases includes:

Ÿ Collecting all evidence

Ÿ Taking photographs at all domestic incidents, including photographs of the scene and of the victim, even if there are no injuries.

Ÿ Getting medical release forms signed.

Ÿ Taking a report and noting whether the victim and suspect lived together, whether the victim and suspect have any children in common, whether any children were present and whether the victim and suspect share bills and other expenses.

Newland did not take photographs or written statements, and failed to take a report of the incident, according to records.

According to the files, Newland’s failure to be truthful is not only a technical violation of the general orders, but could have consequences should the case go to court.

“Pursuant to Brady v. Maryland, full disclosure must be made when an officer who will be material witness in the case has been dishonest in his or her official capacity,” according to the file.

The issue has been referred to the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office. The incident may have a detrimental effect on the state’s ability to prosecute the case, according to the file.

This is the second time in about a month that the police department is seeking disciplinary action for officers who violated orders related to domestic violence cases.

On June 4, Pflibsen filed a disciplinary action recommendation to the board concerning Cpl. Brian Chomer. Chomer allegedly failed to follow standard procedure when a domestic violence victim went to the police station seeking help.

A hearing for Chomer was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but has been continued to July 17 upon Chomer’s request. Pflibsen recommended a 15-day suspension without pay for Chomer, though the board will determine appropriate the disciplinary action.