Retiring Cleveland fire chief faces disciplinary charges

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2015 1:51 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - High-ranking members of the Cleveland Fire Department, including the soon-to-be-retired chief, face administrative charges after an audit of training classes found possible falsification of official records, the city said in a statement.

Fire Chief Patrick Kelly, who is set to retire next week after 33 years with the department, and two supervisors, have been ordered by the city's department of public safety to appear before a disciplinary hearing Wednesday to answer the charges.

The investigation was initiated after a complaint from a firefighter assigned to the department's Fire Training Academy alleged he was asked to enter "improper and inaccurate data" regarding employees completing required continuing education courses, according to a city letter detailing charges.

The fire department investigation comes as city leaders implement reforms after a U.S. Department of Justice report that castigated Cleveland police for the widespread use of excessive force.

No criminal charges were recommended in the investigation into fire training but it is the latest in a string of problems for the department, which has had three chiefs in three years and multiple criminal charges brought against firefighters.

In August, 35 firefighters were accused of violating the department's outside employment policies that allowed 20 hours per week in secondary employment.

In 2013 and 2014, about a dozen firefighters were indicted for theft in office and soliciting or receiving improper compensation charges after a special federal investigator discovered they paid co-workers to take shifts assigned to them.

    The most serious case was Calvin Robinson, who failed to work 8,456 hours, or more than four years of compensated time. Robinson pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful compensation and was terminated last May.

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz)