Falls Police Chief Whitney back on job Monday after being cleared of ‘alleged wrongdoing,’ attorney says

Falls Township Police Chief Nelson Whitney has confirmed he will return to his job overseeing the 53-officer department Monday, five months after his sudden suspension.

But the mystery behind his unexplained forced departure continues, though Whitney’s attorney confirmed Saturday his client has been cleared of “any alleged wrongdoing.”

Falls Township officials have not publicly revealed the reason they placed Whitney on paid administrative leave on April 26, beyond that they planned to investigate the “regarding performance of his duties.”

Falls Township Police Chief Nelson Whitney, on Friday, March 4, 2022, talks about the donations of expired police equipment from his members, that will be shipped to Ukraine.

Falls Township Police Chief Nelson Whitney, on Friday, March 4, 2022, talks about the donations of expired police equipment from his members, that will be shipped to Ukraine.

Whitney confirmed Friday that he will be returning as police chief Monday. He declined to comment further on the circumstances of his leave and return.

“I am returning to my duties as chief of police,” Whitney said in a text message. “I look forward to continuing my service to the community of Falls Township and working with the men and women of the Falls Township Police Department.”

In a statement released Saturday, Whitney’s attorney, Scott Pollins, said his client was cleared following an outside legal investigation.

“Falls Township hired the law firm of Campbell Durrant PC to investigate allegations of wrongdoing made against Chief Whitney,” Pollins said in the statement. “Representatives of Campbell Durrant performed a thorough and comprehensive investigation and no wrongdoing was found on behalf of Chief Whitney.”

The statement did not specific what acts Whitney had been accused of and the township has refused to provide either him or his client with a copy of the investigation and its findings.

Township officials have not released any details about its investigation of Whitney, including any findings, the cost to taxpayers and who conducted it.

Falls Township Manager Matt Takita did not immediately respond to an email asking for details about the investigation on Friday. Through a spokeswoman, the supervisors declined comment on Whitney’s return on Friday, but the board has previously stated it cannot comment on “personnel matters.”

At its May 16 meeting, Falls Supervisors voted unanimously to hire the law firm Campbell-Durrant to provide labor and employment legal services as “Investigative Counsel for Confidential Personnel,” according to meeting minutes, which did not provide either a scope or cost estimate for the work. There was also no mention of the services were related to Whitney.

Whitney’s suspension followed a reported no-confidence vote by the rank-and-file members of the township’s police union. Police Association of Falls Township President Edward Elmore has not publicly commented on member allegations involving Whitney’s leadership.

Union leadership reportedly submitted a letter to the township blaming Whitney for problems with officer grievances and lack of an attempt to resolve them, an “absolutely toxic” work environment, and “non-existent” morale.

Read the Falls chief saga from startFalls Township places Police Chief Nelson Whitney on paid leave pending investigation

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Whitney, a 33-year member of the Falls police force, became chief in January 2021, after four months serving as acting chief.

In a statement released after he was placed on leave, Whitney said he was hired an attorney to investigate whether his cooperation in a federal investigation had any connection to the no-confidence vote or his being placed on leave.

Falls chief’s connection to federal caseAmid union fallout, Falls police chief reveals federal investigation subpoena

Whitney also said that shortly before he was put on leave he informed the township he has been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury as part of an investigation involving the township, according to the statement, which did not provide any details about the nature of the federal investigation.

Whitney has not yet tested before the grand jury, Pollins said on Friday.

Whitney’s abrupt leave also came amid a flurry of lawsuits against the department and township. Since 2019, at least a half dozen current and former Falls Township police officers have sued in Bucks County Court alleging the township and its police department discriminated, harassed and retaliated against them.

Earlier this year, an outside arbitrator ordered Falls Township police department to reinstate a former officer who was terminated in 2020 for allegedly lying in a 2019 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission complaint about serving on the township’s Major Incident Response Team (MIRT).

Falls is seeking to overturn the decision in Bucks County Court.

More on the Whitney suspension saga Falls Police lawsuits, unrest show department in disarray. Is public trust at risk?

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Falls Police Chief returning to job after five month unexplained leave

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