Kalamazoo police chief to retire after harassment complaints

December 29, 2022 GMT

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A police chief in southwestern Michigan is stepping down following allegations by three female city employees of discrimination, sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Vernon Coakley is on unpaid administrative leave and will retire effective Sunday with a severance package of more than $155,000, the Kalamazoo Gazette and WOOD-TV reported Thursday.

Coakley has been with the public safety department for more than 24 years and chief since 2020. He was placed on leave Aug. 16 after the women came forward with harassment and abuse complaints.

An investigation found the harassment allegations to be credible, the city said in a news release.

An independent investigator’s report supported the complaints and pointed to code of conduct, standards of conduct and discriminatory harassment violations.

Coakley, in a joint statement with the city, said he disagrees with the findings and the nature of the investigation.

City Manager Jim Ritsema said he believes “the negotiated settlement is the right decision for all involved.”

“The process was long, but necessary to gather all the facts and to ensure that those involved were treated with the measure of due process as required by law,” he said.

Coakley’s retirement will be reported as in “good standing” to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, according to the separation agreement.

He also will have a chief’s retiree badge and identification.

Acting Public Safety Chief David Boysen was expected to be sworn in as chief next week. He has been serving as interim chief.