NEW BOSTON- The Village of New Boston’s Police Chief Steve Goins remains on paid administrative leave after officers filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Complaints more than six months ago.
After an incident involving a former council member and an OVI crash, NBPD Chief of Police Steve Goins announced an internal departmental investigation on two officers. Following the announcement of the investigation, three officers with the NBPD filed EEOC Complaints against the chief.
According to a release on the village’s social media page, the village hired outside counsel to investigate two matters. On Wednesday, the Portsmouth Daily Times published a story about an investigation into the officers by the Scioto County Sheriff’s Department.
The other matter investigated were the EEOC Complaints. The Village of New Boston hired attorney Dawn Frick to investigate the complaints filed by Capt. Robert Deerfield, Lt. Larry Anderson and officer Lindi Anderson (who is Lt. Larry Anderson’s wife.)
The Portsmouth Daily Times sent a request to the Village of New Boston Solicitor, Justin Blume and received three reports investigated by Frick. All three reports, which detailed complaints from the officers and evidence, were unfounded.
After the article was published Wednesday, Deerfield reached out to the Portsmouth Daily Times via email, claiming he has never received any disciplinary action for the incident. Deerfield also provided a letter from the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office stating that “there is insufficient evidence to establish criminal conduct by the officers involved” relating to the sheriff’s report, which stated they can be charged.
Deerfield also sent emails of conversations to the Daily Times between he and the mayor instructing him and Anderson to return to work March 12, 2021.
“Myself and Lt. Anderson was returned to full duty and cleared of any wrongdoing March 12, 2021, by Mayor Williams. We were instructed to meet with interim Chief Compton for our schedule and work duties,” Deerfield wrote. “Since March 12, 2021, myself, not Lt. Anderson, have met with Interim Chief Compton and he has not provided us with any duties. Basically, we’re just winging it and trying to protect the village as best as we can without any support or leadership at NBPD.”
According to the investigative reports conducted by attorney Frick, Deerfield has felt he has had no actual duties since being promoted to captain in 2017. The report states once Deerfield was promoted, Goins allegedly micromanaged everything Deerfield did.
“As captain, Deerfield alleges that Goins has “micromanaged [him] and denied [him] the freedom to guide and direct employees as needed,” which, according to Deerfield, “has created an unwelcome atmospheric culture at the police department that has morphed into a toxic work environment,” the report stated.
Deerfield also alleged that Goins did not follow his own policies or the village’s policies in the complaint. He also stated Goins retaliated against him every time he questioned or disagreed with Goins.
The complaint lists several incidents where Deerfield felt proper policies were not followed, giving instances with other employees with disabilities, citing sexual harassment claims and providing incident reports where proper procedure was not followed.
The report states, based on all the allegations, Deerfield asserts that he and Lt. Anderson has been subjected to embarrassment, emotional stress, loss of wages and the fear of their careers being ruined by Goins.
On Jan. 20, 2021, Anderson also filed a complaint with the Village of New Boston EEO Administrator, alleging a hostile work environment claim against Goins. The report states Anderson subsequently filed another EEO Complaint March 17, 2021, against Goins and Village Councilmember Jon Mills, alleging a hostile work environment and potentially a claim of retaliation.
According to Frick’s investigation, Anderson alleged that Goins had created a hostile work environment with his actions, new policies, and attitude toward all department staff, which had caused several employees to quit.
Anderson also stated he believed he had been “targeted for revenge” by Goins for his involvement in a meeting in November 2020 with Mayor Williams, Solicitor Blume and Deerfield.
Anderson indicated at the meeting that he made several complaints and suggestions regarding making NBPD a better department and hopefully stopping the high turnover rate of employees. In the weeks following the meeting, Anderson alleged that Goins had refused to have conversations about the department, took over most of Anderson’s assignments and duties, and as a result, had effectively taken the authority from Anderson’s position as Lieutenant.
In Anderson’s second EEO Complaint filed March 17, 2021, Anderson further alleges that Goins conspired with Councilmember Jon Mills to terminate Anderson’s employment in retaliation for the EEO Complaint filed Jan. 22, 2021. Anderson included text messages in his second complaint between Goins and Mills.
According to the report, the messages showed only that Goins indicated to Mills that he wrote a letter to the Village Council Members and Mayor Williams recommending that Anderson not receive a permanent appointment to Lieutenant at the conclusion of his one-year probationary period.
Frick reported that while conducting the investigation, Anderson indicated his legal counsel advised him not to speak with investigators and therefore he did not cooperate in the investigation.
Based upon the investigation of the matter, the report states Anderson does not appear to present any actionable claims against Goins.
A third EEOC Complaint was also filed against Goins by Anderson’s wife Lindi Anderson Jan. 22, 2021, after Goins announced the internal investigation into her husband. In the complaint, Lindi claimed Goins had sexually harassed her.
“Anderson (Lindi) alleges that she requested sick time off from work from Goins due to a surgery that was scheduled for Dec. 1, 2020. Goins approved this request. Anderson also requested that her vest fitting be delayed due to the potential that the surgery could affect her vest measurements,” the report stated. “In response, Goins allegedly requested to know what type of surgery would affect her vest measurements. When Anderson responded that she was having a breast augmentation, Goins allegedly responded by stating: ‘Don’t get them too big,’” apparently referring to Anderson’s choice in breast size.”
The report stated Lindi claimed the comment was made in the presence of Deerfield and that it added to the embarrassment of the situation. The firm’s investigators also attempted to reach out to Lindi Anderson and received the same response as they did from Anderson.
“There does not appear to be any way to truthfully and accurately corroborate whether Goins made this comment. The only other person who allegedly heard the comment was captain Deerfield. However, Deerfield has filed a separate EEO complaint against Goins alleging that Goins created a hostile work environment at NBPD,” the report stated.
According to all three reports, Frick concluded that Deerfield and Anderson’s EEOC Complaints were unfounded and Lindi Anderson’s complaint was unsubstantiated.
“Based upon our investigation of the EEO Complaint of captain Deerfield against Chief Goins, the complaint for discrimination is unfounded. Nevertheless, our investigation has revealed what appears to be low morale and other chain of command issues within the NBPD,” the report states.
“Based upon Anderson’s EEO Complaints and our subsequent investigation, Anderson’s complaint of hostile work environment under the Village EEO policy is unfounded,” according to the report.
“Through our investigation of this matter, we have not been able to substantiate the factual allegations made in Anderson’s (Lindi) EEO Complaint. However, even if Anderson’s(Lindi) allegations could be substantiated, it does not appear that Goins committed any wrongdoing in the eyes of the law,” the report states.
Frick also stated while the reports were unfounded, a severe moral issue within the department was apparent. In the report, Frick recommended additional training be implemented for the whole department on village and police policies, EEOC Complaints, chain of command and disciplinary procedures.
According to all three reports, the reports were completed by May 27, 2021. Goins remains on paid administrative leave. On June 15, 2021, reporter Kimberly Jenkins asked the council at a meeting if there was an update on the chief, with a reply from the mayor stating it was still under investigation.
The Daily Times reached out to Mayor Williams Friday and asked if any additional training would be provided to the department.
“We haven’t done anything yet, but we are looking at doing additional training,” Williams said. “It’s always good and we are always looking to improve our employees here in the village by doing more trainings.”
Williams shared that there have been three different investigations into the EEOC Complaints and incident and clarified that none were ordered by him. Williams said he would be looking at all three reports and decide if Goins would return to work based on all three reports.
Williams also referred to the article published Wednesday referencing the letter from the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office stating, “there is insufficient evidence to establish criminal conduct by the officers involved.” With that letter, Williams said he considers the investigation on Deerfield and Anderson closed.
“According to Ohio law, the chief must issue disciplinary action to the mayor for him to decide if he agrees or disagrees and I have not received any,” Williams said. “No disciplinary actions have come to my desk, and I consider the matter closed on those two officers.”
The Portsmouth Daily Times reached out to Goins for comment, but he declined to talk. The Village of New Boston will have its next council meeting Aug. 3, 2021, at 6:30 p.m.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at [email protected]
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