- Cornelius Frolik Staff Writer
A city of Dayton board that is reviewing the firing of a female police sergeant accused of lying and falsifying official documents is expected to release its decision soon.
Dayton police Sgt. Tonina Lamanna challenged her termination with the Civil Service Board, claiming it was in retaliation for her filing a federal lawsuit alleging the city and police department engaged in sexual discrimination.
Lamanna did not knowingly make false statements, said her attorney Vince Popp, but the city was desperate to fire her.
Dayton police officials claim Lamanna lied multiple times, which they say is unacceptable from a sworn police officer and requires discharge.
“Dishonesty is incompatible with public trust,” said Mark Ecton, a Dayton assistant police chief, at Lamanna’s civil service hearing.
Last month, the Civil Service Board heard testimony from a variety of witnesses from the police and human resources departments about the circumstances that preceded and resulted in Lamanna’s firing on Oct. 3.
Police officials said they received a public records request from the Dayton Daily News in August related to the theft of Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl’s firearm, according to a transcript of the hearing.
Police supervisors testified that they believed someone inside the police department was feeding the media information and ran a report to determine who had viewed Biehl’s personnel file via an electronic information system.
A dozen people accessed the chief’s file in the days leading up to the newspaper’s records request, including Lamanna, testified Matt Carper, assistant police chief.
All 12 people were asked about checking the file, Carper said. Everyone but Lamanna gave “reasonable answers” for what they did, and actually it’s not a violation of policy to view the chief’s personnel record, Carper said.
But Lamanna in an interview with two police lieutenants denied looking at Biehl’s information even though the system documents when users access personnel pages, he said.
Police launched an administrative investigation because of inconsistencies in Lamanna’s statements, and she was asked to submit a “special report” to explain in detail what happened, police administrators said.
Lamanna was fired after being found guilty of three civil service charges.
The charges were for being untruthful when asked about accessing Biehl’s file, being untruthful when asked about accessing another officer’s personnel information and falsifying her special report by indicating she accessed Biehl’s personnel information after seeing a story in the Dayton Daily News about the theft.
Lt. Jason Hall, commander of the administrative services bureau, said Lamanna’s statements were untruthful because the first media report about the chief’s weapon being stolen was on Aug. 14, which was five days after Lamanna accessed the chief’s personnel page.
Police officials testified that an audit of the police information management system shows she never accessed the officer’s personnel information as she claimed.
City employees who are found guilty of falsification are fired, said Dawn Manuel, Dayton human resources supervisor.
“It is by policy, city manager’s policy, and it is also in the police department,” she said.
In her testimony, Lamanna said she was truthful with police supervisors and her comments were misrepresented or misunderstood.
She said her interviewer originally asked about accessing the police chief’s dozens of times, which she says is what she denied doing.
She testified she did access the other officer’s file as she claimed in an interview but did was using a different timekeeping system that is “intertwined” with the police information system.
She said she had a stellar record with the police department and had never been disciplined until she filed a federal discrimination lawsuit claiming she was not being hired for jobs for which she was the most qualified.
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