UPDATE: Haymarket Mayor Vetoes Police Suspensions, Calls for Outside Investigation

| January 24, 2014 | 0 Comments | News

Chief James Roop

UPDATED, Jan. 24 at 12: 35 p.m.: Mayor David Leake of the Town of Haymarket vetoed the suspension of Haymarket Police Chief James Roop, Deputy Chief Gregory Breeden and Officer Jake Davis Thursday, recommending an outside and independent investigation into the personnel matter.

Mayor David Leake issued this statement to be recorded along with the minutes for the Jan. 20 special meeting.

to be recorded along with the minutes for the Jan. 20 special meeting:

The internal investigation done by the council was not performed by qualified personnel. The decisions made and motions made were based on this flawed investigation which was conducted by members not properly trained, experienced and licensed to conduct such an investigation.

The Town of Haymarket Police Department’s General Orders were not followed and therefore neglected and violated.

The disciplinary actions taken against Deputy Chief Breeden and Officer Jacob Davis were both harsh and unfair.

These are very serious allegations and we need to ensure that our due diligence is performed in both the process and the outcome. The only way to ensure this is by having an outside and independent investigation done as originally requested by our Town Attorney.

The Haymarket Town Council has called a town meeting for Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue.

Mayor Leake told Bristow Beat he just learned about the emergency council meeting that morning. He verified that the council is able to override his veto, should that be their wish, with a 2/3 majority vote.

We’ll update when available and keep you posted with any further developments. 

Original Story: 

The Haymarket Town Council suspended Police Chief James E. Roop, Deputy Chief Gregory Breeden and Officer Jake Davis without pay for inappropriate behavior.

The members of the town council called the situation a personnel matter, and refrained from discussion in open session at a special meeting Jan. 20. However, they did announce that as a condition of Roop’s suspension, he will be undergoing 24 hours of counseling on matters of sexual harassment and ethics.

Roop, Breeden and Davis were instructed to surrender their badges, cars and guns to Town Manager Brian Henshaw by end of the day Friday.

The council has appointed Officer Jeff Shaver to run the 6-officer department, now down to three officers, for the next two months.

According to the council’s ruling, the three accused members of the Haymarket Police Department will be suspended for 60 days without pay, or use of leave. In that same motion, the council officially named the cause of Roop’s suspension as the result of “loss of confidence and inappropriate actions.” Before returning to active duty, he will have to complete 24 hours of professional counseling to include issues of ethics in the workplace, sexual harassment and sensitivity training.

The motion to suspend the men received a unanimous vote by the council members, but only after the failure of a previous motion, which might have led to the firing of the officers.

Deputy Chief Greg Breeden

A motion made by Vice Mayor Jay Tobias and Council member Steven Aitken would have suspended the three men until Feb. 3, and would have further directed the town attorney “to proceed as discussed in closed session with regards to employment issues.”

The motion failed 4-2 with council members Milt Kenworthy, Rebecca Bare, Mary Lou Scarbrough and Katherine Harnest opposing it.

After the failure of the first motion, the council entered a second closed-door session Monday, emerging with the motion for suspension.

However, Tobias, Aitken and Mayor David Leake said they felt the suspension did not go far enough.

“I still don’t believe we’re tackling the root cause here, but that’s just my opinion,” Aiken said.

In 2005, Roop and Breeden received a 15-day suspension for alleged sexual harassment. Additionally, Breeden’s wife filed a temporary restraining order against him that same year, according to the Washington Post.

In Dec. 2013, the council instructed Tobias and Aitken to investigate these alleged personnel matters. Mayor Leake attempted to veto that motion, but the council overruled his veto.

This controversy comes amidst calls from a citizens group “Residents For a Better Haymarket” accusing town officials of not acting in the best interests of residents.

In a letter composed by the group and sent to the town council and the media in December, they allege that the town council and police officers were engaging in cronyism to the extent that misdemeanors against certain individuals were being purposefully overlooked.

“We continue to lose too many good people who want to serve because of the bad behavior and ‘good ole boys’ network that is alive and thriving in our town,” the letter states.

The Washington Post reports that state police will also be investigating allegations made against Roop.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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