Cop who sued Crown Point settles, can stay on force
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 11, 2013 10:38AM
Crown Point Police Sgt. James Poling secures crime scene tape after a bank robbery in Crown Point in this 2004 file photo. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: April 13, 2013 6:16AM
CROWN POINT — A confidential settlement reached Friday between the city and Sgt. James Poling ends his efforts to sue for allegedly being wrongfully forced from the police force and allows him to keep working as a police officer after serving a 30-day suspension.
The agreement was announced Monday at a special Board of Public Works and Safety meeting called to conduct a hearing regarding Poling’s actions in a May 2012 high-speed pursuit. The settlement was approved 3-0 with Mayor David Uran and member Randall Palmateer abstaining. Police Chief Pete Land requested in February the city suspend Poling pending termination following the outcome of the hearing, which was expected to take as long as a week.
The action by Land came on the heels of Poling withdrawing his request to retire made last fall, alleging he was being forced into early retirement for political reasons for his opposition as Fraternal Order of Police president to the appointment of Palmateer to the BOW following a couple brushes he had with law enforcement.
Attorney Christopher Cooper, who is representing Poling, read a prepared statement from Poling into the record accepting responsibility for his actions regarding the chase.
“I take responsibility for errors I made pursuant to a pursuit on May 25, 2012. I admit and accept responsibility for violating the Rules and Regulations of the Crown Point Police Department pursuit polices and the City of Crown Point Employee Handbook,” Poling’s letter read.
In the letter Poling goes on to apologize for his actions or inactions surrounding the chase.
City Attorney David Nicholls said both sides have signed confidentiality agreements concerning the settlement. He said Poling would not be able to use comp or vacation time during the 30-day unpaid suspension. Poling will keep his benefits and continue with the police force.
Nicholls asked two questions of Poling outside of the confidential agreement, first whether he was happy with his representation. Secondly Nicholls wanted to know if the settlement was a voluntary act. Poling said he was “very happy” with his representation and is a voluntary participant in the settlement.
Following the meeting Cooper said his client was satisfied with the settlement.
“The city is comfortable with it. Sgt. Poling is comfortable with it,” Cooper said, adding “(Poling) is not going to retire. He will continue to serve as a Crown Point police sergeant.”
Cooper said the terms of the agreement are confidential but any settlement would include the dismissal of any pending litigation, such as the federal lawsuit. He would not comment if there was a financial component to the settlement.
He described negotiations as mutual and amicable between both sides. “Everyone acted on both sides in good faith,” Cooper said.
Uran said while terms of the settlement are confidential he can confirm there was no cash involved in the agreement between the city and Poling. “There is no financial consideration in that deal whatsoever,” he said.
Former Crown Point Mayor James Metros served as a mediator and was instrumental in ironing out the agreement, he added.
“A great deal of credit goes to Jim Metros who helped the parties come to a resolution,” Cooper said.