BRADENTON -- Bradenton police Deputy Chief Warren Merriman has been placed on leave without pay as a result of the conclusion of an Internal Affairs Division investigation that resulted in 27 sustained conduct violations.
Merriman, a 17-year veteran with the Bradenton Police Department, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of petty theft Oct. 23 after weeks of investigation. He is charged with submitting hours not completed during off-duty details and with asking a subordinate to help him with home projects while on duty.
The investigation into allegations against Merriman became public Sept. 8 when the city placed him on paid administrative leave. Because
Merriman's rank places him over the Internal Affairs Division, Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski asked the Manatee County Sheriff's Office to handle the investigation.
After filing criminal charges against Merriman, investigators at the sheriff's office investigated whether Merriman had violated administrative policies. Last week, the sheriff's office concluded its investigation and presented it to Radzilowski.
Of 12 incidents investigated, 27 of 28 charges of violating BPD procedures were sustained.
On Monday, Mayor and Police Commissioner Wayne Poston sent Merriman written notice of Radzilowski's findings along with a copy of the findings. As deputy chief, Merriman is an "at-will" employee exempt from the grievance procedure officers are afforded so he cannot dispute the charges, according to police Internal Affairs Lt. Josh Cramer.
In the letter, however, Poston informed Merriman of his right to a name-clearing hearing.
"The purpose of such a hearing is not to challenge the reasons contemplated for dismissal but rather to allow you the opportunity to respond to the circumstances surrounding it," Poston wrote.
Poston designated city human resources manager Christy Habony to conduct the hearing if Merriman requests one. Normally, the process requires the request to be submitted in writing in seven days.
"Because I understand you elected to leave the country yesterday on a cruise and will not return until December 22, I am extending the deadline to seven days from your return date, December 29, 2014."
Merriman's attorney Brett McIntosh declined comment Tuesday saying he had not yet read the report.
If Merriman does not request a name-clearing hearing, he still has the right to submit a written statement that would be added to his personnel file.
Radzilowski has made some department policy changes that no longer permit department captains and the deputy chief from working off-duty security details, according to Cramer. The policy changes had been attempted by Radzilowski in the past, Cramer said, but went into effect in August, about the time allegations against Merriman were surfacing. The policy change was coincidental, officials said.
Merriman is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 20 for a pretrial conference about the criminal charges against him. He has pleaded not guilty to all three counts.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.