Burks also said it was a mistake for Herzog to attempt to visit local businessman Jeff Couch, Herzog’s friend, in the Butler County Jail after Couch’s arrest in March 2019. It gave the appearance of impropriety, he said.
Assistant Administrator Lisa Brown created Gutman’s plan. Most of his plan deals with how he must treat the female employee who was at the crux of the original complaints against Herzog. They had claimed this employee acted improperly in the office and to them specifically, and they said Herzog was protecting her.
“Your specific allegations of “misconduct” were found to be baseless and without merit, and your accusations risked being discriminatory in nature because you complained of innocuous conduct that would never been targeted for a male co-worker,” Brown wrote. “You are a senior commander in this organization, and West Chester Township will not incur that risk or have employees treated in any manner not characterized by equality, dignity, and respect.”
Brown wrote that Gutman needs to respect Herzog’s command decisions and follow orders even if he disagrees with them, unless they are contrary to law.
“You, Capt. Gutman, face a fork in your own professional road, and a rather stark one,” Brown wrote. “The only choices are a fundamental change in how you work with your colleagues on the command staff and the clerical support staff or to change your employment, either because you choose to leave or you will be discharged for failure to comply with this performance improvement plan.”
The township is still investigating complaints lodged by four other officers. The captains’ attorney, Elizabeth Tuck, said she can’t comment on the plans because Gutman still works there.
Trustee Board President Ann Becker told the Journal-News she believes the police department will come through this controversy.
“I think Colonel Herzog and Captain Gutman are both professionals and I think working with our administration, our team and with their own professional experience I think they can work through this,” Becker said. “Our police department is very strong and this is something that can be worked through.”
Trustee Mark Welch said he was pleased the plans were detailed and offer a clear path to “healing” the department.
“We’re not asking you to try, this is what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s a clear choice so to me the individuals have to be completely dedicated to doing these things. The first step in changing is wanting to change.”