Whistle-blower kissed off

Oct 8, 2003 at 12:00 am

If it’s not an old adage, it should be: Remain a thorn in someone’s side long enough and you’re bound to get plucked. Which brings us to Dennis Whittie, who sure enough just got plucked. Whittie, a consummate shit-stirrer and Hamtramck police officer for two years, was fired last week.

Earlier this year, Whittie filed a complaint with the Michigan attorney general and Wayne County prosecutor about his then-boss, Melvin Turner. At the time, Turner was serving as the Hamtramck police commissioner and director of public safety, as well as the director of public safety for Highland Park. Whittie believed holding the three jobs violated the Michigan Incompatible Offices Act.

And last summer Whittie accused Hamtramck’s then-director of the Department of Public Works, Steve Shaya, of using city staff to renovate a rental home Shaya owned. Whittie, during his off-hours, investigated and found that Shaya had recently been found guilty of committing felony fraud. But Shaya never disclosed his legal problems when he applied for the director’s job, according to Whittie.

Whittie reported all this to the City Council and Louis Schimmel, Hamtramck’s emergency financial manager. In July, Schimmel terminated Shaya, but not because of any wrongdoing. Schimmel told Metro Times in August that he eliminated Shaya’s position as a cost savings measure (“Busting a whistle-blower,” Metro Times, Aug. 13-20).

Whittie says he was reprimanded for violating the chain of command by providing the information directly to Schimmel. Whittie, who seems to thrive on controversy, posted the reprimand on a Web site he created, www.insidehamtramck.com. This led to another reprimand.

Last week a disciplinary hearing was held. Whittie was accused of a variety of infractions, including “insubordination.” Promptly following the 20-minute hearing, which Whittie describes as a “farce,” Hamtramck’s new Police Chief, James Doyle, fired the young officer.

“I knew it was coming, but just didn’t know when,” says Whittie of his termination.

Doyle could not be reached for comment.

Whittie says that the police officer’s union is fighting to get his job back, but that process may take a year.

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