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Charlevoix hires new police chief following harassment investigation

Lake Charlevoix meets Lake Michigan via Round Lake.
Wikimedia Commons
Lake Charlevoix meets Lake Michigan via Round Lake. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The city council of Charlevoix appointed a new police chief after another candidate dropped their bid for the job Thursday.

Jill McDonnell was unanimously chosen for the position. She brings nearly 30 years of experience in law enforcement and has served as Emergency Management Coordinator in Charlevoix since 2020.

Deputy Chief Robert Scholey was another finalist for the position but dropped his bid earlier this week.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with (McDonnell) going forward,” City Manager Mark Heydlauff said. “I appreciate the dedication of Interim Chief Rob Scholey. He stepped up and led our department in the midst of many challenges and exceeded my expectations. I’m pleased he will be staying on as Deputy Chief in the future.”

McDonnell’s appointment comes after former Chief Gerard Doan retired amid sexual harassment allegations.

Doan had the top leadership position in the force for more than 15 years. He had been with the department for about 30 years.

On Oct. 13, Heydlauff received a complaint from a department staff member which spawned an investigation into Doan’s behavior in the workplace.

According to a memo from the city, the investigating attorney said they would have recommended termination had Doan not submitted his retirement.

Doan’s conduct included “repeated unsolicited and inappropriate comments about women’s bodies, dress, appearance and physical fitness.” He would also share details of his private and intimate relationship with his wife.

The investigation concluded Doan’s behavior was prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and violated Charlevoix’s Equal Employment Opportunity and workplace harassment policies.

Doan left his position in November.

More recently, a Charlevoix Courier investigation found additional Charlevoix police employees have come forward with additional allegations against Doan.

All but one of the new accusers have left the department. There were also allegations of racist remarks and ticket-fixing.

To date, Doan has not been charged with any criminal misconduct and there are no criminal or civil lawsuits pending against him.

“That behavior and those actions are not tolerated,” McDonnell said. “I plan on holding some training on sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace for the department members. Ensuring they know how to identify it and how to report it.”

Investigators also recommended strengthening workplace harassment policies and adding a specific section that clarifies expectations for managers and supervisors.

McDonnell says she also plans to get Charlevoix accredited by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. It involves meeting 120 national standards based on policy training, community outreach and more.

She said she’s looking forward to meeting more community members and helping to plan summer-time community events.

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.