Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has withdrawn the appointment of Lackawanna Police Chief James Michel to Erie County central police services commissioner.
The about face comes after Poloncarz said he learned of an incident from 1999 involving the then Lieutenant Michel. Michel admitted to repeatedly calling a lower ranking female officer degrading names.
Documents obtained by 7 Eyewitness News show Michel admitted to some wrongdoing to then Police Chief James O’Hara. O’Hara also said Michel seemed “genuinely sorry” for the violations. The chief adjusted schedules, so the female officer and Michel no longer worked together. Michael was also docked 10 days of vacation time. The document says the officer opted not to press charges because she would have been embarrassed to testify.
In a letter to the Erie County Legislature, Poloncarz said “My administration has no tolerance for sexist, hostile conduct towards anyone, lest of all from senior officials.”
The commissioner oversees the county’s 911 operations, forensic lab, and law enforcement training programs. The post also oversees the department budget and all personnel matters, according to the county’s website. The position offers a salary of more than $83,000.
Calls to Michel haven’t been returned. But, he has scheduled a press conference for Friday to address the issue.
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