Denham Springs — The Denham Springs Civil Service Board’s own chairman was called to testify before fellow board members during the first night of a predisciplinary hearing about the city Police Department’s alleged mishandling of a drug scandal on the force.
The former mayor, current city attorney and an internal affairs investigator also took the stand Monday evening.
Capt. Steve Kistler and Chief Scott Jones are accused of covering up drug use by the head of the department’s narcotics unit, according to notices filed by the city Civil Service Board. A fired police officer has testified he first reported the potential drug use in late 2011.
Kistler’s attorney brought up a complaint filed against the captain in April 2011 by board chairman Clay Gillespie, a city police sergeant.
Gillespie had claimed Kistler had “little or no regard … for employees under his command” and created an “unreasonable and harsh” work environment.
Gillespie testified Monday that Kistler had “greatly improved in the way he runs his office” since the complaint, but added that they work dissimilar hours and rarely interact.
Before he took the stand, Gillespie announced he would recuse himself from a vote on any punishment meted out to Kistler and transferred his authority as chairman to another board member.
Former mayor Jimmy Durbin, father of Kistler attorney Brad Rhorer, and city attorney Paeton Burkett both testified on the decision to withhold information collected in an internal affairs investigation that had been requested by the Civil Service Board in its own investigation.
Kistler was accused of ordering subordinates not to testify in the Civil Service Board’s investigation.
Burkett testified she told Kistler the department was not to divulge information contained in the internal affairs documents. Durbin confirmed that she was acting under his orders.
Detective Glenn Lemoine testified that Jones asked him to investigate Police Sgt. Russ Munsell in January 2014 after two confidential informants accused the sergeant of drug use. Both recanted their statements, Lemoine said.
“In the end, it basically came down to he said, she said,” Lemoine testified.
Kistler’s hearing will reconvene at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Denham Springs Municipal Building. Jones’s predisciplinary hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m.