New Albany Officer makes claims about illegal conduct within department
Laura Schook is seeking $500,000 in damages and a promotion.
NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- A shakeup in the New Albany Police Department after the Chief and the Assistant Chief resigned, and now a New Albany Police Officer is making several claims against her department including corruption, padded overtime and discrimination.
Laura Schook has been a New Albany Patrol Officer on the third shift for 19 years and has never been promoted. She says she brought up several department issues to Chief Sherri Knight, but they fell on deaf ears.
"In reference to my supervisors padding their overtime, stealing time from the city, also doing other jobs while they were at work, essentially being paid for two jobs at one time," Schook said.
Knight, along with Assistant Chief Greg Pennell, resigned May 20 and asked to be reassigned within the police force.
WDRB's Valerie Chinn asked Schook if the requests were related or coincidental.
"Coincidental, yet corroborating at the same time," Schook said. "I mean, that's the way I would look at it. I believe that it corroborates what I said. There has to be some truth to what I said or they wouldn't be scrambling around like they are."
Schook brought up the allegations back in 2010 and says the way she is treated on the force has changed. Schook said, "I've had incidents where I wasn't backed up properly. I know I have been passed up for promotions."
Her lawyer has now filed a tort claim, essentially notifying the City of New Albany and Sherri Knight of their intentions to file a civil lawsuit. Knight tells WDRB News she hasn't received the tort claim and didn't comment on the allegations.
"We're a little surprised this route was taken," said Shane Gibson Corporate Counsel for the City of New Albany. "It looks like, after reviewing these real quickly, that a lot of this was work-related issues and the normal process is to file a grievance with the union and have that process taken, and that wasn't done here."
The tort claim outlines Schook is seeking $500,000 in damages and a promotion.
"This is a matter that falls within the realm of probably our insurance policy," Gibson said. "They'll be notified that we have this potentially going, so we do carry coverage for different kinds of things."
Schook says there are reasons why she still want to work for the department.
"I grew up in New Albany," Schook said. "I went to school in New Albany. I graduated from New Albany. I love New Albany."
In November of 2003, Schook made headlines after 20 seconds changed her life. She was stabbed on the job by a teenager who was then shot and killed by her partner.
"My life was affected," Schook said, adding: "I worked my way through all of that alone. I was never offered any assistance from my department."
Now Schook is hoping speaking out will bring change as a new Chief is expected to be appointed soon.
"I don't want another person to go through what I went through," Schook said.
Both sides are hoping the issues can be resolved before the tort claim becomes a lawsuit.
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