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Sheriff’s Office investigates $2,500 missing from Berkley parks dept.

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published February 25, 2015

 The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the apparent theft of $2,500 from the Berkley Parks and Recreation Department.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the apparent theft of $2,500 from the Berkley Parks and Recreation Department.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

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BERKLEY — The city turned over an investigation into $2,500 missing from the Berkley Parks and Recreation Department to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office after the issue came to City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa’s attention a few weeks ago.

Because the investigation is ongoing, both Bais-DiSessa and Undersheriff Mike McCabe could not divulge many details, but McCabe said he believes the money was stolen right before the end of 2014.

“We were called by the Berkley public safety director and asked to investigate this after the theft was brought to the attention of city officials, but I can’t say anything beyond that,” McCabe said. “We are interviewing and have interviewed several people, and we hope within the next couple of weeks we will be able to come to a conclusion on this.”

Bais-DiSessa said she could confirm the amount missing is $2,500 and it was from the Parks and Recreation Department, but she would not go into further details.

“We are looking into this very carefully and hope to get some answers,” she said. “When you look at something like this, you want to get answers quickly, but it takes a little longer with an investigation.”

The case was turned over to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Bais-DiSessa said, to avoid any internal conflicts.

“We can’t investigate ourselves,” she said. “This happened in one of our own departments, and that is best handled by another agency. We want to be very objective and transparent and thought it was best to have someone from the outside look at this.”

The Berkley Parks and Recreation Department has undergone some changes recently, and more could be in the future, as Bais-DiSessa said she is looking possibly to merge Parks and Recreation with the Department of Public Works.

If the plan was to go through, it would work much like the Berkley Public Safety Department, which merged police and fire personnel.

“We are doing a study and looking at our own internal organizations, and nothing is finalized; it is still under review,” Bais-DiSessa said. “The best example is Royal Oak, a close-by city that utilizes this form, and it works very well. In our case, we have public safety and that works really well.”

Another change in the department was the appointment of Deputy Director Theresa McArleton to interim director earlier this year, as former Director Tom Colwell was removed from the position. Bais-DiSessa said it was a personnel matter not connected to the investigation. Colwell is still working in the Parks and Recreation Department.

“This is just a temporary position, and if we combine, Theresa will go back to her position, and if we decide to stay the way we are, we will search for a Parks and Recreation director,” she said. “I don’t like to discuss personnel issues publicly, and this is a personnel matter, but I just felt we needed to adjust the management of the parks department.”

Colwell said he had been instructed not to comment.

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