Great Bend city administrator accused of retaliation, harassment

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – An open letter was sent to Great Bend city council members on Tuesday, from Chief Cliff Couch’s attorney. The attorney said the reasons were clear — to express concerns over the city administrator Howard Partington.

The letter claimed that Partington “..ignored Chief Couch’s stated concerns about the need for more manpower at the Police Department and a compensation study performed by an outside entity.”

Couch’s attorney, Dennis Keenan, said that Couch believes the department reached a dangerous state involving staffing shortage.

“I have personally interviewed some officers, and which they told me they could hardly take any time off because it puts a bigger strain on remaining officers.”

Couch alleged that Partington didn’t want the chief or his officers to talk to the council about their concerns. He also claimed Partington acted in retaliation when Couch was told he wasn’t allowed to attend the FBI National Academy.

“He was told, as punishment, he was not going to go to Quantico,” explained Keenan. “Now that’s wrong.”

When asked about the accusations made against him, Partington would not provide any comment, citing personnel issues.

“I think on a professional level it needs to be done in executive session with the mayor and the city council,” Partington said.

A few council members said the issue will be talked about in a future meeting. One council member shared that he was taken back after reading the letter.

“It has not gone through the proper channels,” said Mike Boys. “If you’re a department head, you go through Howard, and if you can’t work that out, you got a mayor.”

Couch’s attorney requested that the council hire an outside investigator to look into the allegations against Partington.

According to council members, the issue will most likely be discussed in executive discussion. However, Couch and his attorney want to talk about the concerns in a public setting — saying there needs to be more transparency with the city government.

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