Westlake police chief suspends political challenger

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC) - Westlake Police Chief Jeremy Cryer confirms he has suspended police Captain Michael Dickerson for two weeks without pay after an internal investigation stemming from a complaint from a member of the public.  But what's raising eyebrows is that Cryer is in a hotly contested race for re-election where his only opponent is Dickerson.

Cryer says his suspension of Dickerson for two weeks without pay is for conduct not in line with department policy. Both men are keeping quiet about details, but Cryer says Dickerson was in uniform and on duty during the incident that led to the suspension. "It's a very difficult situation. It's a hard decision to make but any of my officers always have to treat the public with respect and reverence no matter if you're a political candidate or not."

However Dickerson, who has been allowed to use vacation time so he won't lose pay, says his suspension is politically motivated. "I think it was a political issue. I have filed a written grievance with the city. I've spoken to the mayor and my private counsel and they advised me not to discuss it any further as long as the grievance is going on at this time," said Dickerson.  "We're both in a very difficult situation. That's why I took time off now until the end of the election so we won't have any more problem," he said.

Cryer admits,  given the circumstances,  the suspension might appear politically motivated.  But he says it's not. "If this were to be anybody else or any other time, I'd have made the same decision,"said Cryer.

And due to the appearance of a conflict Cryer says he asked the sheriff's department and district attorney to review his handling of the situation. Calcasieu D.A. John DeRosier says when police officials contacted him he advised them to go to the state ethics board for advice on how to handle the matter.

The Westlake Police grievance procedure involves Dickerson first asking the chief to reconsider. If not resolved then, the dispute goes to the mayor and if needed, finally, to an appeal board.

The election is October 2nd. Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.