BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) - City leaders met in public Tuesday evening for the first time since two Battle Creek Police officers were disciplined for a drunk driving crash last month.
On July 31, Officer William Gensch had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit when he crashed a car into signs, mailboxes and a curb in Bedford Township. He was off-duty at the time.
Then-Lt. Todd Madsen drove Gensch and his passenger, off-duty Officer Jennifer Appl, home after the crash. No arrests were made.
Since then, there has been lots of talk of special treatment and a cover-up because Gensch was at one point allowed to walk away from the crash scene to a nearby party store and police did not collect proper evidence to build a drunk driving case.
Gensch was required to serve a 20-day suspension without pay and Madsen was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant with no chance for future promotion.
Battle Creek Mayor Susan Baldwin told 24 Hour News 8 before the meeting that she can not and will not comment on the two officers because the case is still working its way through the legal system.
City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama told 24 Hour News 8 that it is important to separate the personnel side of the incident and the criminal side.
"There were mistakes made in the handling of the incident and the response to the incident on the scene," said Tsuchiyama. "In terms of the internal review and the sanctions as a result of that internal review, there was no preferential treatment."
As for the night of the crash, Tsuchiyama said it's hard to say if there was preferential treatment because he wasn't there.
"All we know is what they did and not the reasons why," he said.
He said that part will have to play out in the legal system. The case has been passed along to the Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office.
Tsuchiyama said he understands the public's concern and takes the matter seriously.
The other commissioners 24 Hour News 8 spoke with declined to comment.
24 Hour News 8's requests for comment from the Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office were not immediately returned.
Though the drunk driving crash and subsequent discipline were not on the agenda of Tuesday evening's city commission meeting, it was the first time for the public to ask questions of elected officials during the public comment portion.
But only two commission meeting regulars spoke up about the incident.
"Had any citizen out here done anything like that we'd be in prison for six months," said resident Dave Moore.
"If it was me, I would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," added resident Autumn Smith. "Apparently elected officials and police are exempt from that."
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