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Report says former West Chester police captain violated rules

West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog has been accused of creating a hostile work environment by two of his command staff, Capt. Jamie Hensley and Capt. Joe Gutman. From left, West Chester Police Capt. Jamie Hensley, Police Chief Joel Herzog, and Capt. Joe Gutman. CONTRIBUTED
West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog has been accused of creating a hostile work environment by two of his command staff, Capt. Jamie Hensley and Capt. Joe Gutman. From left, West Chester Police Capt. Jamie Hensley, Police Chief Joel Herzog, and Capt. Joe Gutman. CONTRIBUTED

West Chester Twp. has released an internal investigation that determined former Police Capt. Jamie Hensley violated department regulations by “displaying disrespect and disdain” for the police chief in January.

Hensley resigned June 23 after he and Capt. Joe Gutman filed a formal complaint, via their attorney, against Police Chief Joel Herzog accusing him of making sexist and racial remarks, favoritism and retaliation, in February. The township hired a third-party investigator to investigate the charges. That report was recently released and no disciplinary action was recommended but a performance improvement plan was.

The internal investigation into Herzog’s issues with Hensley was initiated Feb. 11 and released Friday.

“The internal investigation was complete, except for findings, but was halted to allow the third-party investigation to take place,” township spokeswoman Barb Wilson said. “The final report of the internal investigation was completed this week.”

The issue stems from a meeting Herzog, Assistant Chief Brian Rebholz and Human Resources Director Tonya Charles had with Hensley Jan. 28. The discussion was over Hensley’s job performance issues in general and in particular a couple Facebook messages by Hensley’s wife. The most recent report is redacted, but the posts are mentioned in the third-party investigator’s report that identify Hensley’s wife.

Hensley recorded the meeting on his phone and throughout the transcript of the meeting it shows the captain interrupted his boss several times saying the entire issue is “ridiculous” and “idiocy” because he isn’t even on Facebook, doesn’t talk about work at home and has no control over his wife’s actions. He also said there is no way to specifically tie her Facebook posts to the department.

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“Jamie, I will not have you sit here and tell me I’m an idiot. Do you understand that?” Herzog said, according to the report.

“I’m not saying that, chief,” Hensley responded.

During the conversation Herzog explained to Hensley why the Facebook posts are causing a problem. One of the posts gave a definition of cronyism “for instance, this includes appointing ‘cronies’ to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications” came two days after two new promotions were announced in the department.

“Let me explain something, as a member of the command staff we have a certain prestige and responsibility. The officers see that. When they see something come out that they believe is related, and that’s just what I’m talking about now. I’m not saying it’s related and I’m not telling your (redacted) not to post stuff. That’s her, is her first amendment right,” Herzog said.

“But it has created disruption and dysfunction in the police department, there’s questioning on command. It’s undermining the command staff and that’s what’s happening here. That’s what I’m talking about.”

The internal report also indicates Hensley made “false or misleading” statements about having knowledge of the post during the Herzog meeting and about not having retained a copy of the recording.

The internal report found four instances where Hensely violated rules and regulations but any disciplinary action became moot when he resigned.

Hensley and Gutman’s attorney, Elizabeth Tuck, said she finds it curious why the township cares more about when or how Hensley knew about his wife’s post than the fact department staff see the word cronyism and think of Herzog.

“This is just the same sham paper trail Chief Herzog has been trying to build on Captain since he learned Captain Hensley was hiring a lawyer,” Tuck said. “There is no reason I can think of to issue an investigation report for someone who doesn’t even work there anymore, other than to build a legal defense. I am sure people can and will see right through it.”