Clare Police Chief vindicated, re-instated

September 13, 2018

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Following a review of the investigation of 17 allegations against Clare Police Chief Gregory, and his subsequent administrative leave that began on August 1st,

Clare Police Chief Brian Gregory

Clare Police Chief Brian Gregory

Clare Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis concluded, “These allegations against Chief Gregory are without merit. No charges should or will issue against Chief Gregory and this matter is closed.”

He has been reinstated as Clare’s Police Chief.

One of the allegations against the Chief involved improper use of LEIN (the Law Enforcement Information Network), and was the most serious of the allegations brought to City Manager Ken Hibl August 1st.

A second opinion on the matter was a review of the Michigan State Police Report by Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney Sierra Koch, who said in a letter to Ambrozaitis, “I reviewed all of the statements made in the interviews regarding an alleged LEIN violation, as well as the entire set of allegations against Brian Gregory by Jeremy McGraw. Based on my review of the documents I would not charge Brian Gregory with a LEIN violation because I do not believe the evidence sufficiently supports the charge.”

City Manager Ken Hibl said earlier, “I received allegations against Chief Brian Gregory for acts of misconduct in the course of his duties as the City’s Police Chief.  Based on these allegations, I temporarily suspended him from performing any and all duties as a police officer and as the City’s police chief without my express permission pending completion of an inquiry to determine the validity of the allegations.”

Clare officers Jeremy McGraw, John Lake, Tom Brandon and Sgt. Gregory Kolhoff brought the list of allegations to the City Manager August 1st. According to the 11 page statement from Ambrozaitis, “The officers made several complaints to Hibl regarding what they believed to be a hostile work environment caused by Chief Brian Gregory.”

Hibl said he believed Brandon’s complaints stemmed from his long-standing medical condition and learning that Gregory had discussed terminating his employment with the City Manager.

The prosecutor’s statement continued, “During this meeting McGraw presented a folder to Hibl that contained approximately four years of documented complaints regarding Chief Gregory. The first was dated April 17, 2015 and the last documented complaint was dated August 4, 2017, almost one year prior to McGraw bringing any of these complaints to Hibl’s attention.”

The LEIN allegation was dated July 19, 2017, and concerned an order by Gregory that McGraw run a LEIN for him “so he could give the information to (name withheld).”

Kolhoff, the department’s LEIN officer notified LEIN Field Services of the potential violation alleged by McGraw.

Investigation of Lynn Felton of LEIN Field Services showed that the LEIN request was made July 17 at 11:04 in the morning, not on the 19th as McGraw had reported in his journal, and that the subject of the search was not the person initially alleged. She also said she was informed that McGraw alleged the chief had requested the information for an employment background check, which would be a criminal violation.

The allegation relayed to Felton was different than the written allegation provided by McGraw to Hibl. An email to Felton from Kolhoff said the query requested was for a local business owner to do a background check on an employee, and that the officer was told afterwards “how it was being used.”

Ambrozaitis said in her statement, “It is apparent from how the information was relayed in the email to Felton that Kolhoff had discussions with McGraw regarding the incident prior to sending the email and McGraw amended his allegation to add an employee background check as a reason for the query.”
She said McGraw’s statements “were not consistent.”

In the MSP interview with Chief Gregory, he reported that he had ordered the LEIN because (name withheld) had met with him to discuss “a volatile family situation where another person had made threats to harm or kill his family members.” He said he didn’t reveal that information to (name withheld) and only advised him that his department would not have jurisdiction and the incidents would need to be reported to a neighboring county law enforcement. He said he believed his query was proper, and denied ever performing background checks for (name withheld) or anyone else.

During his MSP interview Gregory said he believed McGraw had a “vendetta against him.” He said he had required McGraw to have a psychological evaluation several years ago because of a shooting incident. He added that he believed if McGraw believed he had committed a LEIN violation he wouldn’t have waited a year to report it.

His statement to investigators was verified by the person that came in to talk to him about the possible threat.

In her conclusion, Ambrozaitis said, “It is my opinion that Chief Gregory did not violate the LEIN when he requested McGraw run a LEIN query. He met with a citizen of his community who wanted to discuss threats to harm or kill by (name withheld). Even though Chief Gregory did not have jurisdiction he took steps that any prudent law enforcement officer would take.”

The other allegations made against Gregory were not determined to be criminal and were investigated by City Manager Ken Hibl.

In an email statement Wednesday evening, Hibl said, “Seventeen allegations of misconduct were filed against Chief Gregory. Of the 17 allegations filed against him, I have determined that two were founded. Neither of the two founded allegations rise to a level of concern that cause me to doubt his ability to continue serving as the City’s Chief of Police, and I have vacated his suspension with the stipulation that he must immediately fulfill two conditions.” He continued, “Chief Gregory continues to have my full trust and confidence, and I look forward to his continued outstanding service to the citizens of Clare as the City’s Chief of Police.”

Chief Gregory said, “I look forward to getting back to work for the City of Clare.”

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