The city and individual defendants, and four current or former female Battle Creek Police officers have reached a settlement in a 2013 lawsuit over the use of video surveillance cameras to investigate accusations of theft in a Police Department locker room.
The settlement payment of $52,000 was approved by the City Commission on Feb. 16. The settlement agreement signatures were completed this week.
After several other female officers complained that money and other items were missing from or tampered with in the locker room, a female officer who led the internal investigation installed a camera to try to catch the person(s) responsible. The city maintained that the motion-sensitive camera was set up only to take limited recordings over three consecutive shifts, covering a 27-hour period.
The footage led to the resolution of the theft concerns, showing one person going through coats in the locker room. That person later admitted to taking money and was subsequently fired. The footage showed only one instance of an officer in any state of undress – briefly seen from the waist up wearing a sports bra.
Attorneys representing Jennifer Appl, Laurie Gillespie, Jennifer McCaughna and Shawn O’Bryant filed the lawsuit, alleging civil rights violations involving privacy and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable government intrusion.
Along with the city, the lawsuit named former Police Chief Jackie Hampton, former Deputy Chief James Saylor, former Inspector Maria Alonso, then-Deputy Inspector Randy Reinstein, Lt. Steven Bush and Sgt. Chad Fickle.
The city has consistently denied any wrongdoing concerning this internal review and maintains that the limited search complied with constitutional standards. Although the city continues to assert that there was never any constitutional violation, the City Commission has allowed for the settlement to offset costs and litigation risks.