March 11 hearing anticipated for suspended Crown Point police officer

2013-02-20T18:45:00Z 2013-02-20T19:45:06Z March 11 hearing anticipated for suspended Crown Point police officerSusan Erler susan.erler@nwi.com, (219) 662-5336 nwitimes.com
February 20, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | A hearing that could last several days is anticipated to start March 11 for a Crown Point officer suspended from the Police Department earlier this month, City Attorney David Nicholls said.

Sgt. James Poling was placed on paid leave Feb. 14 by the Board of Public Works and Safety, at the request of Police Chief Pete Land.

Land cited 31 city and Police Department policies and regulations that he said were violated in a May 2012 police pursuit supervised by Poling.

Poling's lawyer, Christopher Cooper, requested the hearing on the suspension. The March 11 starting date falls within the required 30 days of the suspension.

Cooper said Wednesday he expects to call 16 witnesses to testify at the hearing.

Cooper represents Poling in a lawsuit against Land and Mayor David Uran.

The lawsuit filed Feb. 4 in federal court in Hammond alleges Uran and Land attempted to terminate Poling's employment in retaliation for Poling signing a Crown Point Fraternal Order of Police letter objecting to Uran's January 2012 appointment of Randall Palmateer to the Board of Public Works and Safety, which oversees police matters.

Poling was then president of the FOP lodge.

Poling alleges in the lawsuit he was under duress when he signed a retirement agreement last year, and that he tried to withdraw his retirement letter.

The Board of Public Works and Safety approved the retirement Oct. 10.

City officials on Feb. 14 told the public works board Poling agreed to retire after hearing results of an August 2012 Police Department internal investigation into the May police pursuit.

Officials told board members Poling had requested and received a $13,200 early separation incentive from the city. The check has since been returned uncashed, Cooper said.

The public works board voted 3-0 on Feb. 14 to suspend Poling with pay, pending possible termination. Board members Palmateer and Uran abstained.

Poling alleges in the federal lawsuit Palmateer pointed a gun at an off-duty police officer in July 2011.

The lawsuit also states Palmateer was arrested in Crown Point in August 2011 on a drunken driving charge. Palmateer has since pleaded guilty to reckless driving in connection with the incident.

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