LAWTON — Rumors of low morale and nepotism within the Lawton Police Department appear to be involved in the city council's decision to hire an outside company to investigate the police force, but details about the inquiry are being guarded by elected officials.
The Lawton City Council approved a contract in August for Oklahoma City-based Fidelis Group LLC to conduct the inquiry. The private firm will be paid $125 an hour, plus travel expenses, to investigate the department.
That much is known.
The reason the private company was hired in the first place? That information is a little harder to come by.
Elected officials in Lawton are saying little about the investigation other than “it's ongoing” and “I can't talk about it right now.”
Emails from The Oklahoman to all members of the Lawton City Council mostly went unanswered. One council member, Rosemary Bellino-Hall, replied with a simple statement: “We are pledged not to speak about (the investigation).”
Those reached by phone deferred all comment to the city attorney's office.
Even Mayor Fred Fitch, the spokesman for a city committee devoted to overseeing the investigation of the police department, offered little when questioned about the situation.
“I have no comment since this is under investigation,” Finch wrote in an email. “I will have updates from time to time after the subcommittee has updates from the investigative team.”
Lawton City Manager Bryan Long, who said he is “very limited” in what he can say about the investigation, issued a prepared statement last week in response to inquiries from the media about the investigation.
“The scope of the investigation is on internal operations and activities within the department and is focusing on speaking with police department personnel and former officers about their complaints or concerns that need to be identified,” Long wrote in the email.
“The investigation already is showing signs of being quite productive as a number of concerns and ideas are being brought to the forefront on a voluntary basis,” he said.