FOP, merit commission defend decision to reinstate officer accus - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

FOP, merit commission defend decision to reinstate officer accused of unfit for duty

Philip Houchin (Source: New Albany Police Department) Philip Houchin (Source: New Albany Police Department)
Merit Commission President Eddie Hodges Merit Commission President Eddie Hodges
New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 president John Hall Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 president John Hall

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - An additional New Albany officer is on the street after the chief tried to fire him because of unfounded mental health issues.

Patrolman Philip Houchin returned to work this week following a yearlong paid administrative leave. Houchin is not permitted to speak about the circumstances because of department policy, according to Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 president John Hall.

[PREVIOUS STORY: News and Tribune: New Albany police officer reinstated despite chief's objections]

"He sought help for a minor issue he had and it was blown out of proportion," Hall said.

Chief Sheri Knight claimed an evaluation last year determined Hall was unfit to serve due to his mental well-being.

"That was the chief's prerogative," Merit Commission President Eddie Hodges said.

The merit commission rejected Chief Knight's attempts to remove Houchin citing his mental fitness for duty. New Albany's Police Merit Commission voted 4-1 to reinstate Houchin - a year since he was taken off duty. The commission also dismissed two other charges involving unspecified conduct unbecoming an officer.

Hall said Houchin confided some personal issues to a doctor. Chief Knight tried to remove Houchin after she found out about what Houchin said during a mental health evaluation, according to Hall.

"Now our officers don't have confidence in the administration because of how this was handled," Hall said.

Houchin, who's been a New Albany officer since 2005, has a clean personnel record and hasn't been reprimanded for any violations by the department.

"The merit commission had to follow the law and reinstate him. We found no bearing to keep him off duty," Hodges said.

Houchin's mental health issue or diagnosis may never be released because of privacy concerns.

Chief Knight admitted Houchin never had a problem on the job, but she told the merit commission at their meeting that she's still concerned.

Knight released the following statement:

"I am disappointed with the commission's vote tonight, and do not think it was in the best interest of the department, officer Houchin or the public that we service. I hope that the commission fully considered the potential risks and consequences associated with his reinstatement. I do not agree with the determination you have reached, but I will respect the commission's vote and reinstate Officer Houchin. I request that the commission require or permit the department to take steps to insure that Officer Houchin remains on his medications and continues in his treatment so as to safely do his job."

Going forward, FOP president John Hall insists the action taken against Houchin will have an immediate impact on the department.

"It's disappointing and frustrating because our FOP members may not approach the administration about other sensitive matters," Hall said.

Copyright 2013 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved

  • FOX19 HeadlinesMore>>

  • NFL sparks new questions over anthem; Trump lauds league

    NFL sparks new questions over anthem; Trump lauds league

    Thursday, May 24 2018 2:32 AM EDT2018-05-24 06:32:12 GMT
    Thursday, May 24 2018 3:45 PM EDT2018-05-24 19:45:26 GMT
    (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File). FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles...(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File). FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles...

    With its popularity threatened and critics stretching all the way to the White House, the NFL tries to get past the debate over taking a knee during the national anthem but seems to muddle the issue even more.

    Full Story >

    With its popularity threatened and critics stretching all the way to the White House, the NFL tries to get past the debate over taking a knee during the national anthem but seems to muddle the issue even more.

    Full Story >
  • Dem, GOP leaders to get classified briefings on Russia probe

    Dem, GOP leaders to get classified briefings on Russia probe

    Thursday, May 24 2018 12:42 AM EDT2018-05-24 04:42:28 GMT
    Thursday, May 24 2018 3:44 PM EDT2018-05-24 19:44:33 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). In this May 23, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Two House lawmakers who are allies of President Donald Tr...(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). In this May 23, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Two House lawmakers who are allies of President Donald Tr...

    A briefing Thursday about classified documents will be for just two Republican House members, both Trump allies, as Trump and his supporters in Congress press for information on the outside informant.

    Full Story >

    A briefing Thursday about classified documents will be for just two Republican House members, both Trump allies, as Trump and his supporters in Congress press for information on the outside informant.

    Full Story >
  • N. Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

    N. Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

    Thursday, May 24 2018 6:32 AM EDT2018-05-24 10:32:00 GMT
    Thursday, May 24 2018 3:43 PM EDT2018-05-24 19:43:22 GMT
    Journalists took a long journey up to North Korea to witness the destruction of what North Korea said were nuclear sites. (Source: CNN)Journalists took a long journey up to North Korea to witness the destruction of what North Korea said were nuclear sites. (Source: CNN)

    North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test site in the presence of foreign journalists.

    Full Story >

    North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test site in the presence of foreign journalists.

    Full Story >
Powered by Frankly