Falls police chief returns to work after five months of unexplained furlough

Falls Township Police Chief Nelson Whitney confirmed he would return to his job supervising the department of 53 officers on Monday, five months after his sudden suspension.

But the mystery behind his unexplained forced departure continues.

Falls Township officials have not publicly disclosed the reason they placed Whitney on paid administrative leave on April 26, beyond that they plan to investigate allegations “in relation to the performance of his duties.” “.

Whitney confirmed on Friday that he would return as police chief on Monday. He declined to comment further on the circumstances of his departure and return, but his attorney, Scott Pollins, was due to release a statement later Friday.

“I am returning to my duties as Chief of Police,” Whitney said in a text message. “I look forward to continuing to serve the Falls Township community and working with the men and women of the Falls Township Police Department.”

Township officials have not released any details about its investigation into Whitney, including the findings, the cost to ratepayers and who conducted it. Falls Township Superintendent Matt Takita did not immediately respond to an email requesting details of the investigation.

Through a spokeswoman, supervisors declined to comment on Whitney’s return on Friday

At its May 16 meeting, Falls Supervisors voted unanimously to hire the Campbell-Durrant Law Firm to provide labor and employment legal services as “counsel of ‘Confidential Personnel Survey,’ according to the minutes of the meeting, which did not provide the scope or cost estimate for the work.

Attorney Scott Pollins, who represents Whitney, confirmed that the same company conducted the investigation into his client’s job performance. The township did not provide its client with a copy of the final report, he added.

Whitney’s suspension follows a no-confidence vote reported by rank-and-file members of the township’s police union. Falls Township Police Association President Edward Elmore has not publicly commented on the members’ allegations regarding Whitney’s leadership.

Union leadership reportedly submitted a letter to the township accusing Whitney of grievance issues and failure to resolve them, an “absolutely toxic” work environment and “non-existent” morale.

Read the Heads of the Falls saga from the startFalls Township places Police Chief Nelson Whitney on paid leave pending investigation

Followers Votes of censure are not uncommonVotes of “no confidence” are not uncommon in law enforcement. Here’s what it means in Falls Township

Whitney, a member of the Falls police force for 33 years, became chief in January 2021, after four months as acting chief.

In a statement released after his furlough, Whitney said he had hired an attorney to determine whether his cooperation in a federal investigation had anything to do with the no-confidence vote or his furlough.

Falls Leader’s Connection to the Federal CaseAmid union fallout, Falls police chief reveals federal subpoena

Whitney also said that shortly before being furloughed, he informed the township that he had been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in connection with an investigation involving the township, according to the statement, which did not provide any details about the nature of the federal investigation.

Whitney has yet to testify before the grand jury, Pollins said Friday.

Whitney’s abrupt furlough also came amid a flurry of lawsuits against the department and township. Since 2019, at least half a dozen current and former Falls Township police officers have sued in Bucks County Court, alleging the township and its police department have been subjected to discrimination, harassment and retaliation. against them.

Earlier this year, an outside arbitrator ordered the Falls Township Police Department to reinstate a former officer who was fired in 2020 for allegedly lying in a 2019 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission complaint about his involvement in the township’s Major Incident Response Team (MIRT).

Falls is seeking to overturn the Bucks County Court decision.

Learn more about the Whitney suspension sagaThe Falls Police Trials, The Troubles show the department is in disarray. Is public trust threatened?

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