Henderson Police Chief Patrick Moers has been put under internal investigation after he sent out mailers to local business owners promoting a foundation that he called the department’s only authorized fundraising group.
Mayor-elect Debra March told the Review-Journal on Wednesday that the investigation into Moers and Friends of the Henderson Police Department Foundation was launched in early May after she saw the mailer — which included Moers’ photo and an image of a City of Henderson police badge.
“If it’s a ‘friends of’ organization, then generally it’s run by the department’s friends,” March said when asked about the degree of separation between the foundation and the police department. “I had concerns when I saw the mailer.”
The mailer addressed to Henderson Business Owner in part reads: “The success of these programs greatly relies on the support of community volunteers and charitable contributions from organizations like the Friends of the Henderson Police Foundation which was just created solely to support the Henderson Police Department and our mission.”
Moers sent a departmental email dated Feb. 14 telling staff that the Friends of the Henderson Police Foundation is designated as the only fundraising organization in which all money goes to the department.
“Although other foundations collect and donate to us, Friends of HPD are the only authorized fundraisers by HPD,” he said in the email.
March declined to comment on what actions of the police chief or foundation are being specifically investigated. Several attempts to contact Moers for comment were unsuccessful.
It’s unclear whether some of Moers’ actions that are under investigation are separate from the probe of the foundation.
City officials declined to discuss whether Moers might face disciplinary action or be placed on administrative leave.
“The city of Henderson is in the process of reviewing all its policies regarding charitable activities to determine if they need to be updated,” spokesman David Cherry said in an email. “The city also wants to ensure that employees have the information they need about participating in charitable activities and understand the guidelines…We are still reviewing the circumstances surrounding the mail piece as part of our review of our city policies and procedures.”
In April, according to its website, the foundation had an advisory board composed of seven members of the Henderson Police Department, including Moers, deputy chief Bobby Long and captain Wade Seekatz.
The website has since deleted its advisory board section.
“There is currently no city policy prohibiting service on nonprofit boards,” Cherry said in his email. “The city is reviewing its policies related to charitable giving, including service as a member of a nonprofit board or in other capacities.”
However, another section of foundation board members still listed on the website includes Guadalupe Trujillo, the wife of city director of public affairs and the city’s lobbyist, Javier. Trujillo serves as the treasurer of the foundation, while marketing company owner Barb Donohue serves as secretary.
Guadalupe Trujillo and Donohue did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Foundation president and local real estate agent Jeff Crampton refused to comment in a phone interview, but sent an email stating, “We expend our time, effort, and energy as private citizens voluntarily supporting the City of Henderson that we live in, by supporting the men and women of the HPD who protect and serve us.”
When asked about the foundation’s goals, board member Frank Hodulik, owner of Frank’s Auto Body, said “we haven’t had any meetings lately, so I don’t know who you could talk to about that” and hung up the phone.
“The foundation isn’t doing anything shady,” said Don Ellis, another board member and owner of Snap Towing. “This is all meant for good — nothing bad. We’re trying to work on building a new dog training facility for the K-9 unit.”
Contact Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4686. Follow @JournalismSandy on Twitter.