Hayes brings suit against village, mayor and police chief –
By Patricia Beech –
The internal conflicts that have plagued the Manchester Police Department in recent months may soon be taken up by the local courts. Officer Joshua Hayes has filed a suit with the Civil Division of Adams County Court of Common Pleas against the Village of Manchester, Jeff Bowling (in his capacity as Chief of Police and as an individual), and Mayor Robert Hildebrand. The suit is only one of the many hardships facing the financially beleaguered village.
Hayes may have been alluding to his intention to bring suit against Bowling and the village in an earlier complaint filed in July when he alleged that “Chief Bowling’s actions are not only criminal, but he has displayed conduct unbecoming of an officer by betraying the public trust within the community. His blatant disregard of the law and abuse of authority has become more of a liability than the village of Manchester could afford to bear.”
Hayes’ current complaint contains nine Claims for Relief including a Writ of Mandamus, Defamation, Interference with Employment, False Light Invasion of Privacy, Negligent Supervision, Invasion of Privacy, Respondeat Superior, Retaliation, and Hostile Work Environment.
The Writ of Mandamus, which is an order from a higher court commanding a certain course of action be followed, would compel Mayor Hilderbrand to enforce the decision of the village council and direct Chief Bowling to reinstate Officer Hayes and ensure that he receives all his required training and has full LEADS access.
The complaint asks for an award of $10,000 for attorney fees and cost for bringing the mandamus action; an award of $10,000 for alleged defamation and an award of $50,000 in punitive damages; an award of $5,000 resulting from Chief Bowling’s alleged interference with Hayes’ employment relationship and $50,000 for punitive damages and attorney fees and costs; an award of $10,000 for Chiefs Bowling’s alleged invasion of privacy and $50,000 for punitive damages for alleged illegal actions; an award of $100,000 for alleged invasion of privacy and punitive damages of $200,000 for alleged illegal action and/or allowing alleged illegal actions to continue unabated; an award of compensatory damages from the village of Manchester and punitivedamages in the amount of $100,000; an award of compensatory damages in the amount of $5,000 and punitive damages in the amount of $50,000 for alleged retaliation by the defendants; an award of $10,000 and punitive damages in the amount of $100,000 for the alleged creation of a hostile work environment. Additionally, the Hayes complaint asks that the award be applied jointly between all three defendants.
The complaint springs from actions taken by Chief Bowling after Officer Hayes filed a grievance against him in early July. Bowling launched an investigation which led to Hayes being fired from the police force. Hayes in turn submitted a complaint to the village council accusing Bowling of falsification, intimidation and coercion, dishonesty, and immoral conduct. The village council ordered that Hayes be reinstated to his position, however, Mayor Hildebrand, in his capacity as overseer of the police department, steadfastly refuses to uphold the council’s decision.
Bowling continues to defy the council’s wishes and refuses to grant Hayes access to LEADS (Law Enforcement Automated Data System) and other training required by his position. It is an action many say leaves the town under-protected. Additionally, in recent weeks Chief Bowling has accepted a secondary position as a Bailiff in Butler County which cuts back on the hours he is available to police the village.
Mike Reno was one of a group of concerned citizens who met with Mayor Hilderbrand to discuss the town’s law enforcement problems.
“We asked that he either step up and make Jeff (Chief Bowling) either do his job the way he’s supposed to be doing it or take control of your police department and end all of the (internal) arguments,” said Reno. “All of Chief Bowling’s efforts have been focused on that, and that takes away from his ability to do his job properly. If you look up the Manchester crime rate you’ll find we don’t have one – but we do. We are crime-ridden right now, but there’s no reports being made, no charges are being pressed against people, nobody’s being investigated for anything because all the focus is on trying to get Officer Hayes removed and Officer Mallot reinstated.”
At the most recent village council meeting Manchester residents expressed their frustration with the ongoing battle between the two officers and Mayor Hilderbrand’s apparent reluctance to take action.
Reno asked the Council for a Vote of No Confidence in Mayor Hilderbrand. Council member C.L. Skip Wagner said the vote was spurred by the mayor’s failure to end eight months of infighting in the police department. With three council members abstaining, the vote was two in favor and one against.
The No Confidence vote was meant to be a precursor to a Recall Vote by villagers to replace the mayor. Even though the motion failed a special meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13 to discuss disbanding the police department and revisiting the vote of No Confidence. That meeting has since been canceled.
In a recent Facebook post Chief Bowling expressed his disappointment in the council’s decision to level a No Confidence vote against the Mayor.
“This is how the council is trying to help the Village of Manchester, against legal advice which has already got them several lawsuits,” he wrote. “I guess they think the Sheriff’s Department will respond free of charge. It is not hurting me I can go elsewhere tomorrow, they are hurting the residents and of course no business would ever want to come to town. How about we vote on a new council?”