Police Chief Quits; 'Personal Reasons'
by Chris Bernard, Sitka Sentinel

Bill McLendon resigned as police chief Wednesday, citing personal reasons.

City Administrator Tony Zimmer said today he has accepted the resignation, effective Feb. 22.

The resignation comes amidst a flurry of allegations of misconduct and wrongdoing against McLendon and the Sitka Police Department.

Those allegations are being made by Brent Turvey, a forensic scientist from California who has an office and a residence in Sitka, and by John Baeza, whose employment with the Sitka Police Department was terminated by McLendon last week.

Turvey and Baeza came to Sitka in 2000 when they were hired by the family of Jessica Baggen to investigate the 1996 murder of the 17-year-old girl. In 1997 a suspect in the case was found guilty innocent after a jury trial, and the case remains unsolved.

Last year Baeza, a retired New York City police officer, was hired as a lieutenant in the Sitka Police Department.

Six days ago McLendon dismissed Baeza, citing a number of violations of departmental policy when the detective, in the course of an investigation, had a heated argument with a citizen at the man's place of business.

At the time, Baeza had not yet complete the department's mandatory 12-month probationary period for new hires.

Baeza said he is appealing his termination, and has also made claims of misconduct against the chief and other members of the department.

McLendon and Zimmer told the Sentinel today that the chief's resignation is not related to the accusations being made against him. There is no hidden agenda," McLendon said. "My reasons are all personal."

Zimmer agreed.

"The chief is leaving for personal reasons and not as a result of anything," he said. (City Attorney Cliff Groh and I) will be meeting with him to clear this stuff up, to see what's going on. We've got one side of the story. We will be meeting today to see how we're going to proceed with this investigation."

[End Article]

Note: The remainder of the article details McLendon's background and hiring. The written allegations referred to here were filed during and after meetings with City Administrator Tony Zimmer and City Attorney Cliff Groh on January 15th and 16th, 2002. They were simultaneously provided to the media, who phoned the Sitka Police Department the morning and afternoon of the 16th to get comments regarding the allegations. The Chief was called to meet with Mr. Zimmer and Mr. Groh to discuss the allegations on the the 16th, late in the afternoon, and subsequently resigned. - Brent E. Turvey, MS

Cite: Bernard, Chris "Police Chief Quits; 'Personal Reasons'" The Sitka Daily Sentinel, Thursday, January 17, 2002