Hayse claims he was fired for not generating traffic ticket, towing revenue
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE — An attorney for former Police Chief Chad Hayse filed suit in federal court Oct. 6 claiming Hayse was fired for not generating enough towing and traffic ticket revenue.
City Councilmembers Nicole Barnes, Wheeler Marsee, Michelle Said Land, Dave Cybulski, Carl Louvet and Steven Densmore were named as defendants in the suit.
Neither Mayor Stacy Bazman nor City Attorney Lawrence Coogan have commented publicly on the lawsuit.
“It’s a shame that Mr. Hayse was retaliated against in this way,” attorney Deborah Gordon said Oct. 27. “He was trying to ensure that the laws of the city and the state were being enforced, and the powers that be did not want him interfering with their drive to collect additional revenue by having cars improperly towed.”
Gordon said they are bringing a due process claim to “correct the situation and make it right,” adding that Hayse’s original hearing — Aug. 29 and 30, 2016 — was “preordained, and it was not a true hearing.”
A “due process claim” refers to a person’s constitutional right to due process of law before he can be deprived of life, liberty or property.
Hayse claims in the lawsuit that officials of the city of Melvindale, which is working to eliminate a $1 million deficit, routinely expressed concern when traffic and towing revenue decreased.
Police Cpl. Matt Furman, who generated the largest number of traffic tickets and revenue from vehicle towing, reportedly was investigated during the summer of 2016 for the volume he generated.
During Hayse’s five-and-a-half-hour hearing involving five counts, Furman said if he did not impound uninsured vehicles and intervene with uninsured drivers, the city would be liable for allowing them to remain on the road, and if they were in a subsequent accident and a victim was unable to recover damages the city could be held liable.
Hayse countered by saying an officer has the discretion to park a car as opposed to towing it until it can be retrieved by a third party, such as the vehicle’s licensed owner or a licensed, insured driver.
Following the hearing, Hayse was terminated by a unanimous city council vote Aug. 30, 2016.
The charges, all of which which Hayse denies, include:
• Posting political and personal comments on an official city social media page.
• Misleading the public safety commission and city council about a 911 equipment upgrade delay and details about a possible dispatch merger with Dearborn.
• Instructing officers regarding the usage of towing services contrary to the enforcement of the uniform traffic code.
• Failure to properly document an officer’s suspension in writing.
• The use of profanity, vulgarity and slanderous statements directed toward elected and appointed public officials.
For each count, Hayse, without the presence of legal counsel, produced witnesses and documents countering the specific allegations of each count.
Conflicting officer testimony throughout the hearing confirmed and denied the charges.
It was unresolved who posted specific comments on the Police Department’s official Facebook page. Hayse produced documents indicating that some comments attributed to the police page were actually on a closed city Facebook discussion page, Melvindale It Takes A Village.
Bob Hecht, an outside supplier of radio system technology, including police dispatch consoles, testified that information technology problems continues to delay the installation of upgraded 911 dispatch equipment for all impacted area communities, and Melvindale’s installation delay was not intentional.
One officer, who said Hayse made profane comments about Detroit towing company Goch and Sons, admitted to having a personal relationship with the business owner.
Raymond Guzall, an attorney hired by the city to conduct the hearing, said that Hayse’s practice of requesting gender, age and race information from Furman before the approval of towing a vehicle as a result of a traffic stop was illegal.
Hayse said it was predicated because discretion was needed to prevent vulnerable people from being left at risk on the side of the road or exposed to weather conditions.
Hayse’s alleged use of profanity, vulgarity and slander with respect to elected and city officials was a hotly contested issue, and the most contentious, with officers providing contradictory testimony.
The charges contend that Hayse said certain city officials were “corrupt” and “on the take.” It also listed vulgar and profane names Hayse allegedly used in reference to the mayor, which he denied.
Some officers said the police department environment was “toxic,” while others denied it being stressful.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)