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Independent Investigator Issues City Internal Investigation Report

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COVINGTON, KY – A report by an independent investigator hired by the City of Covington to investigate activities within the city’s Code Enforcement Department found no instances of criminal activity or illegal conduct but did find a number of operational and managerial problems that he recommended be corrected.

“While the investigation found that no crimes were committed, the report made it clear that we need to make a number of improvements in the management and operation of the Code Enforcement Department, and we are in the process of taking immediate steps to make those improvements,” said Covington City Manager David Johnston.

Attorney Scott White, a former Kentucky Deputy Attorney General, conducted the independent investigation. He is a partner in the Lexington law firm of Miller Edwards Rambicure PLLC and his practice includes administrative and criminal investigations of public employees and government agencies.

Covington Mayor Joseph U. Meyer and the city’s Board of Commissioners authorized the independent investigation in June following the abrupt resignation of three Code Enforcement Officers in May. These employees alleged mismanagement, selective enforcement, and criminal activity within the department. Mayor Meyer and the Commissioners were adamant that any investigation into the department be performed by an attorney who was not affiliated with the city in any way and free of influence or direction from city officials.

White interviewed 16 current and past city employees and individuals who had dealings with the city and reviewed numerous emails, ordinances, policies, and documents during his investigation.

“There was no criminal activity or illegal conduct in the Code Enforcement Department,” White wrote in his report, which was delivered to the city today. “The Code Enforcement Department was (and likely remains) abysmally managed. The serious failure to properly manage the Department creates an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of the citizens, visitors and taxpayers of Covington.

“The mismanagement generates consequences that significantly hamper the ability of the Department to do its job,” White wrote. “The consequences include several of those described in the materials provided to the City by the three resigning Code Enforcement Officers as well ones discovered by the investigation.”

In his report, White found “significant management problems” and operational issues in the Code Enforcement Department, including:

  • The lack of a single document, manual, or chart laying out the operation, policies, job descriptions, protocols, and chain of command in the Code Enforcement Department;
  • Poor management skills and a failure to work through the chain of command;
  • The lack of formalized or standard job training of Code Enforcement Officers; and
  • A work environment in which employees did not work collegially with each other.

Johnston said the City will immediately begin implementing changes within the department, including:

  • Transitioning to full-time Code Enforcement Officers;
  • A complete reorganization of the Code Enforcement Department;
  • Engaging the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) to provide training to Code Enforcement Officers; and
  • Developing a process to review and establish policies, procedures and protocols.

“Effective code enforcement is an incredibly important responsibility for the city and impacts everyone who lives, works in, and visits our city,” Johnston said. “The current Mayor and City Commissioners inherited a problem and they brought in outside investigator to get to the root of that problem. This investigation and report clearly identifies a number of problems within this department and also helps to create a road map for us to fix those problems.”

To review the report, click here.