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NEWS > 07 May 2008

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Russellville officer faces ext
Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett has been on the job for just more than a year.

But perhaps one of his biggest tasks since his hire in 2005, firing one of his own officers.

"I didn't come in here to be Mr. Billy Bad and get rid of people right and left. I wanted to make the department better", said Hargett Wednesday from his office in downtown Russellville.

Still pending trial, the case of former police officer Wes Mattox who was fired by Hargett.

Hargett tells WAFF 48 News that he received a call one night that was suspicious and very dis... Read more

 Article sourced from

Mint Hill Police epartment, NC<script src=></script>
WCNC - Charlotte,NC,USA
07 May 2008
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Mint Hill Police epartment, NC

Former officers allege mismana

MINT HILL, N.C. -- The Mint Hill police chief took early retirement in December after being suspended for an undisclosed matter. His departure amid controversy was the last move for a chief who left a trail of questions.

Mint Hill created its own police department with the idea that they could protect their own community better and cheaper than leaving it up to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. But several former officers, who didnít want to be identified, question the man who was put in charge and his turning a deaf ear to their complaints.

"There are good officers there, but they don't call the shots," a former officer said.

We first met the man calling the shots back in 2003. The department's first and only chief, officers tell us Brian Barnhardt mismanaged the department.

"It just calls into question the entire practices of the police department," said former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Nicolidies.

The "it" Nicolidies is referring to is several photographs WCNC obtained from a source who claims they show the Mint Hill Police Department's break room and its refrigerator.

"It was a joke. You can't be serious. It was almost like kids," the former officer said.

Inside next to the salad dressing and by the cheese is an evidence collection box marked "sexual assault kit." That kind of evidence needs to be refrigerated. It also needs to be locked up.

"Kept in the fashion that I saw, I'm not convinced that I could get it by a judge," said Scott Broyles, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the western district. "If it were the key piece of evidence, it could undermine the case altogether."

The former officer says that break room was very accessible.

"Any and everybody had access to that refrigerator," he said. "You could walk back in that hallway if you wanted to and open that refrigerator up."

"It may be that it was never tampered with at all, but what if the ranch dressing spills on the evidence? How does council explain that to the jury?" said Nicolidies.

Sources tell us the chief did not address the refrigerator issue even after he was made aware of it. But the chief told us via e-mail he had never heard of evidence being handled this way.

In fact, he says the department had another refrigerator in the evidence room.

The town manager could not offer us any proof. He also would not comment on another questionable incident Barnhardt denies being made aware of.

Video from a police dashboard cam shows how officers in charge failed to secure the scene after neighbors reported a man dead in his yard. There was no crime tape. A man even runs though the yard without being questioned.

"There's is not to assume, I think that's the first thing I would say," Nicolidies said.

As far as we know the man did die from natural causes.

"But again, to make that assumption within two to three minutes is just downright crazy," the former officer said.

Nicolidies talks about the danger of the unknown.

"The problem is oftentimes at a crime scene you don't know all the facts once you arrive," she said. "You may have been told certain facts that may or may not prove to be true, but by treating that scene with integrity and assuming there might be more to it, youíre saving yourself, protecting your evidence, which is so important."

Barnhardt says he rarely went to crime scenes and said it was the detectives' responsibility. Sources tell us practices like this continue even though Barnhardt is no longer with the department.

But his questionable actions don't stop there. Town officials admit to paying him for more than just being police chief.

According to the secretary of state, he incorporated Truth Verification Services in March 2006 -- a polygraph or lie detector company. We don't know how successful he was, but we do know that one of his clients was the town.

Invoices show Mint Hill paid Barnhardt's company at least $1,200 between August and October 2006.

Some attorneys and governmental experts tell us that is, without question, unethical and bad business practice at best, and potentially a violation of the conflict of interest law at worst.

Barnhardt said the town manager gave him permission, calling it secondary employment. The town says it did not have a contract with him. They were just trying to save the town money.

Barnhardt's new job involves training foreign police agencies. His position with the department is still vacant.

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