Anamosa Police Chief Robert Simonson needs to resign immediately.
If he does not resign, the City Council needs to fire him.
It is amazing that the council has allowed him to stay in office this long.
The city recently settled a sex discrimination lawsuit with a payout of $750,000 to former Anamosa police officer Amy Ford. The lawsuit detailed numerous allegations of behavior by the police chief that is appalling.
There were emails of naked women and crude jokes sent to Simonson’s police officers, including Ford, the lone woman on the force.
There was the denial of a promotion due to Ford’s complaining about her treatment to the city administrator. According to the lawsuit, “Simonson finally admitted that a large part of the reason he decided not to promote (Ford was) because she had made a sex discrimination complaint against him.”
The council has been aware of his behavior since at least the summer of 2015. That was when Ford filed a written complaint with then City Administrator Alan Johnson alleging sex discrimination. Ford had previously complained to the city administrator and a councilman in 2010 about discrimination in the police force.
After the written complaint, Johnson responded by giving Ford a ballistics vest she had requested, but if Johnson took any action against Simonson, it was not revealed in public documents.
It was at that point that things spiraled out of control, according to Ford’s allegations in the lawsuit she filed against the city and Simonson.
The chief retaliated against Ford by denying her a promotion and criticizing her work. He continued to send emails filled with misogyny and racial hatred.
These attitudes have no place in city government, especially in a police department whose responsibility is to enforce the law in the city.
Through it all, according to documents filed in the lawsuit, Johnson backed the chief and defended him.
If the council was waiting for this case to work its way through the court system before taking action, now is the time for the council members to act.
After years of doing the wrong thing, we hope Simonson steps up, does the right thing and resigns. Based on his previous actions, that is not likely.
The council needs to step forward and show leadership on an issue for which it has previously abdicated responsibility to the city administrator.
The $750,000 payout was bad, but the worst part of Simonson’s actions is that they led to Ford’s resignation as an Anamosa police officer. For more than a decade, Ford was part of the Anamosa community, running the anti-drug DARE program, serving as a resource officer in the city schools and representing the police department in community events.
Amy Ford is the type of officer the community needs. It is sorrowful that the chief’s actions -- and the City Council’s inactions -- led her to leave Anamosa.
The city has paid $750,000 to compensate for Ford’s disgraceful treatment at the hands of the police chief. It is time for Simonson to pay for his role with his job.