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October 19, 2005

 

Chief David McAllister resigned from the county police force in the wake of an investigation into how off-duty assignments were handled and paid for with his professional and personal reputations apparently intact.

Other than general references to "management practices," it never was publicly disclosed for what he was being investigated. He was not accused of violating any law or regulation. Nor will he be, either civilly or criminally.

Even less was revealed about how the resignation came about.

Following a 70-minute session of County Council's executive committee behind closed doors on Oct. 18, Nicole Majeski, County Executive Christopher Coons's chief of staff, distributed copies of a brief statement which, on behalf of Coons, said, in part:

"Chief McAllister has tendered his resignation and acceptance of it concludes the investigation of management practices in the New Castle County Police Department with regards to Chief David McAllister. By agreement of Chief McAllister and New Castle County, the investigation has concluded. No disciplinary action will be taken. There has been no request for, and no agreement made, to provide financial incentives for the resignation."

Like all Council standing committees, the executive committee consists of all 13 Council members. They all were present at the meeting.

Council president Paul Clark said after the session that the third of three separate investigations was continuing. Being conducted by the department's 'professional standards unit', it involves the roles of rank-and-file officers relative to off-duty practices and the compensation fund. State law puts the chief outside the purview of an internal investigation providing that jurisdiction to the county law department.

His having command of the investigating unit was given as the reason McAllister was placed on paid administrative leave in July, when its probe began. The fund predates McAllister's being promoted to chief in 2003 by several years.

McAllister joined the force in 1992. He held the rank of lieutenant, the lowest command rating, when he was appointed chief by former County Executive Tom Gordon, who himself had previously been police chief. The appointment required a change in the law, which previously set having held the rank of captain or above as a requirement for the job. The chief holds the rank of colonel.

Then and since, observers have regarded McAllister as a political favorite of Gordon and former administrative officer Sherry Freebery, who had succeeded Gordon as police chief.

Acting police chief Scott McLaren, will continue in that position until McAllister's successor is chosen, the statement said.

According to the statement, McAllister, who is 36 years old, "is satisfied with the goals accomplished during his tenure [and] now wishes to explore some recently presented career opportunities."

McAllister did not attend the committee meeting and could not be reached for comment.

When Delaforum sought comment from his lawyer, Jeffrey Weiner, Weiner replied, "No comment" and abruptly hung up the telephone.

As previously reported, an audit of the off-duty jobs fund by auditor Robert Wasserbach found several irregularities. Apparently the most serious involved an unidentified officer who reportedly wrote himself as many as 67 checks forging the signatures. Clark said more than one officer remain subjects of the internal investigation.

Off-duty assignments generally involve uniformed officers performing such police duties as security and traffic management for private organizations.

The resignation agreement was signed by McAllister,Weiner, Coons and county attorney Gregg Wilson on Oct. 14.

It provides that:

The file of the investigation will be sealed and destroyed after seven years in accordance with county government's document retention policy;

"The [Coons] administration will make its best efforts to minimize any discussion of the specific allegations of the investigation as to David McAllister";

McAllister will not sue the county;

He will be paid for accrued vacation time and sick leave; and

Parties to the agreement will not "publicly or privately disparage" each other.

Chief administrative officer David Singleton stuck closely to the agreement while responding to the media following the committee session. He refused to go beyond the wording of the press statement, adding that "this puts the end to the matter."

He did say that it was "not a forced resignation" and that McAllister will receive no more in the way of compensation than is his due as a departing county employee.

"The chief has chosen to leave the employment [of] New Castle County [government]," Clark said. "This is over. Everybody said good-bye. ... It's time to leave the past behind."

Before the assembled committee voted unanimously to go into executive session, Clark read from the state's open-meeting law provisions shielding discussion of personnel matters and pending or potential litigation. When Councilman Robert Weiner questioned whether clearing the room was necessary in that instance, Clark replied that "what the county attorney wishes to discuss should not be discussed in open session."

Wilson, public safety director Guy Sapp and county solicitor Carol Dulin remained for the executive session.

Clark said later that he referred to potential litigation as a matter of course. He had not been personally briefed beforehand "and didn't know what was coming," he said.

2005. All rights reserved.

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Get more information about this topic

Read the full text of the statement issued to announce the resignation of police chief McAllister
Read previous Delaforuim article: Auditor said county police officer forged checks

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