- Associated Press - Friday, September 15, 2017

BELLEVUE, Neb. (AP) - A suburban Omaha police chief was placed on administrative leave at his own request after police union members voted 72-1 to tell city administrators that his officers have lost confidence in him.

Capt. Dave Stukenholtz will lead the Bellevue department while Police Chief Mark Elbert is on paid leave pending a city investigation, Bellevue City Attorney Pat Sullivan said Thursday.

A union news release issued Wednesday, the day of the vote, cited a pattern of “dishonest and deceptive conduct” by Elbert. The union said it has recordings of the chief instructing a staffer to deceive other staffers and hide information from the city administration. The union has not released the recordings.

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The 87-member union wants Elbert removed from his post, union attorney Gary Young said.

Elbert said in response that the union characterizations of his actions are false.

“I am confident that any review of how I have conducted myself regarding such personnel matters or any other matter in my role as the chief of police will conclude that I have discharged my duties in a responsible and wholly appropriate manner at all times,” Elbert wrote in a news release.

The union also alleged that Elbert had made derogatory comments toward women and racial minorities. The chief said he found these accusations particularly offensive.

“These allegations are not only entirely false, but also inconsistent with my professional conduct during my 20-plus years in law enforcement, and my personal conduct as well, reflected, in part, by the fact that I am a father to minority children and a young daughter and would never tolerate such comments or actions,” Elbert said.

The union also has filed complaints with the Nebraska Commission of Industrial Relations, alleging the city has conducted retaliatory investigations against two officers. City officials declined to comment, deferring questions to Sullivan, the city attorney.

Sullivan said Thursday that the chief’s situation “is a personnel matter which will remain confidential, but the (union’s) press release will not lessen the city’s focus on investigating and disciplining any alleged acts of employee impropriety.”

Elbert was promoted to the department’s top spot in 2013. He joined the Bellevue force in 1996.

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