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Hyattsville Council Mum on Harassment Case

Council discusses sexual harassment lawsuit behind closed doors.

If you tuned into last night's Hyattsville City Council meeting wondering if there , keep wondering. 

City council did discuss the lawsuit, , but only behind closed doors at the tail end of the meeting. Council members unanimously approved a motion to enter closed session to discuss the case with city attorney Richard Colaresi, among other topics. 

After the meeting, which ended around 11 p.m. following the hour-and-a-half long closed session, city council members were reluctant to talk about the case in any detail as they filed out of council chambers. Police Chief Doug Holland was not present at the meeting. 

would not comment on specific details about the lawsuit, but said that sexual harassment has no place in the workplace. 

"In my day job I work in an organization that has a zero tolerance policy. I believe that that is an appropiate policy to have for any workplace," said Tartaro, emphasizing the word "any." Tartaro works for the Smithsonian Institute where he oversees architectural projects. 

When asked if he had been aware of any complaints about the workplace culture in the Hyattsville city police department, Tartaro had no comment. Nor would he say when he first became aware that a lawsuit had been filed. 

"At some point we'll be able to provide more, but I can't get ahead of the lawyers," said Tartaro.

Attorneys for the city have three weeks to file a response to Lessard's lawsuit. 

But when asked about the high rate of legal claims filed against the city over recent years, Tartaro gave a lengthy response and acknowledged that the underlying reasons for that rate need to be examined. 

"Can one look at the management of the city, not just the police department, but the city, in relation to litigation and claims against the city over, say, a decade? To go back and look at that and see what has happened and what trends are or the level of claims commensurate to the size of a municipality?" Asked Tartaro, rhetorically, before continuing. "There's always a blip where something happens. Are we were we should be, in terms of the normal day to day operations of the city? Well, we're looking at that. When we have a handle on that, an assessment of that, you'll get a story."

Over the last 10 years, the city of Hyattsville and its police department has been a defendant in at least eight federal lawsuits. Four of those suits are still pending.

The city council did, however, vote on a few police department measures, giving unanimous They also gave their blessing to a measure reclassifying two acting police corporal positions into full time corporal positions, resolving a snafu which last month had

schoolinn1491 July 17, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Management and leadership come from the top down. The Mayor and City Administrator should be the first to go. When they refuse to provide the PD (and other departments) with more than "adequate" budget, equipment, training, and other required resources, after being told again and again and again that they have continuous turnover, and will only get crap applicants, this is what happens. The crap applicants turn on the City and sue. And don't be mistaken folks, this IS about money! They were warned over and over and over. This goes way beyond a sexual harassment lawsuit which isn't even true or valid. Every detail is being either fabricated or exemplified or completely taken out of context. This stems from mismanagement of city funds and improper CITY leadership - not in the police department, but the CITY as a whole. Mike, take THAT story and run with it!!!
Brittany M July 17, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I agree that they need to start at the top and work their way down however, it is very wrong of you to ASSUME that the case Mrs. Lessard has is not true or valid, considering there were witnesses and he admitted to it. You should go and read the PDF that is attatched to the first report on this and get a better understanding of the case!
LauraCuz July 17, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Mike Theis - you have a typo: "Are we were we should be, in terms of the normal day to day operations.." 'were' should be where. Great article, again. Thanks. Schoolinn1491 - This is definitely a fresh perspective. I agree. Work you're way from the top down. However, your facts about the Lessard case are incorrect. Please read the PDF file to update yourself on the details that we are speaking about. Granted this is an initial complaint document, but I KNOW this is not about monetary gain in any way, shape, or form. Anyone who knows Lessard on a personal level know that to me a farce and nothing but an attempt to discredit her. Say what you want about the documents and the facts, but you can't claim to have insight about her intentions unless you know her, what she went through, and have spoken to her.
Susan July 18, 2012 at 01:11 PM
schoolinn1491 - you sound so angry. Could it be that you are one of the officers listed in the complaint?

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