Ambridge Borough police officers have issued a unanimous vote of no-confidence for the town’s council members, manager, solicitor, and suspended chief of police.
In a statement provided to BeaverCountian.com through their bargaining unit today, the officers say Borough leadership failed to take action in response to sexual harassment complaints filed against Chief James Mann last year by two female officers in the department.
Mann’s attorney, Stephen Colafella, told BeaverCountian.com he would not be providing public comment about the complaints. Borough Solicitor Richard Start has repeatedly declined to comment on issues involving Mann during public meetings of council.
Mann is currently awaiting trial on unrelated criminal charges filed against him last August by the Pennsylvania State Police. He remains suspended from duty without pay, although continues to be an employee of the department.
Statement From The Ambridge Police Bargaining Unit:
This is a statement from the Ambridge Police Department Bargaining Unit. The purpose of the statement is to state the bargaining unit’s concerns about particular personnel matters.
In early 2018, two complaints of sexual misconduct violation of Department policies were reported to Ambridge Borough. The complaints named James Mann, the Chief of Police at the time, as the subject. The complainants were informed that nothing would be done until the complaints were set forth in writing. This caused the complainants to continue working with Mann for a period of time.
After the written complaints were made, the Borough hired Corporate Security and Investigation (CSI) to investigate the complaints. CSI completed the investigation in July of 2018. The investigators took statements from employees of multiple agencies as well as Borough employees. The bargaining unit has been told that CSI authored a report and submitted it to the Borough. It has been reported to the Unit, off-the-record, that the report is some eighty pages in length and recommends Mann’s termination.
The complaints have been reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These federal complaints are highly confidential and the charges made will not be made public. The fact that Mann is still employed showed a lack of response by the Borough. A member of Ambridge Borough Council provided an interview in August of 2018 following a meeting to suspend James Mann without pay. The Council member stated that the entire Department was under investigation. The bargaining unit received a letter this week providing that there is no longer an investigation of other officers in the Department. The findings and reasons for the investigation have not been revealed.
The Bargaining Unit has been unable to communicate with members of Council about the state of affairs in the Police Department, including basic operational matters based on the advice provided to them by the Borough solicitor. This has created an unhealthy divide between Council and the Police Department. This rift, real or perceived, is causing a stressful relationship between both parties. The decision to eliminate details has been conducted in executive session and has not been discussed or disclosed to members of the public.
The Bargaining Unit is aware that James Mann is going through a criminal case, which is separate from the events investigated by CSI. The Borough appears to be delaying taking final action concerning the complaints and Mann’s employment pending the outcome of the criminal case, which has placed the Bargaining Unit, Council and the community in a tumultuous situation.