Edmond deputy police chief
The Edmond Public Safety Center is located at 24 E. First St. (Joe Tomlinson)

Despite paying an attorney $213,334 to conduct a year-long investigation into internal allegations of racism, sexism and bullying by a deputy chief of the Edmond Police Department, city officials have declined to release the final report, discuss its findings or specify what actions have been taken as a result.

The city hired attorney Candace Lisle of Phillips Murrah in January 2022 at a rate of $295 per hour to investigate allegations against Deputy Chief Tim Dorsey, a 33-year veteran of the department. During an annual evaluation period, Maj. C.J. Wise emailed Dorsey with a list of his actions and statements that he considered inappropriate. Wise then filed a formal complaint with the city, which hired Lisle to interview EPD employees and compile a report that would be reviewed by Edmond’s city manager and police chief for potential action.

Lisle’s investigation lasted a full year, and she billed the city for 723 hours, which would equate to 90 business days or 18 full weeks of work.

Despite the significant cost and effort, virtually no information has been discussed publicly about the investigation into Dorsey and other potential allegations made during employee interviews.

Even the Edmond City Council has not received copies of the investigation’s findings or a formal, executive session briefing on the matter.

New Ward 1 Councilman Tom Robins, however, said he requested and received a briefing on the subject by City Attorney Steve Murdock after assuming office in May. Robins said he saw the “binders” containing the report but only received a rundown of its findings from Murdock. Robins said he believes the public should receive at least a summary and explanation.

“Transparency provides an opportunity for increased trust at senior levels of government,” Robins said.

At 10 p.m. on Jan. 31 — after learning that NonDoc was preparing to publish an article about the investigation — Murdock emailed a statement saying the investigation had been completed. NonDoc responded by requesting a copy of the report under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. On Feb. 2, Murdock denied the request, citing Title 51, Section 24A.7 and saying the findings are “personnel records” that “are exempt from disclosure and are confidential.”

Asked what day the investigation had been completed, Edmond marketing and public relations Manager Bill Begley provided a statement that did not include a direct answer.

“Regarding your request for what day was the investigation complete we submit the following: The City of Edmond and the Edmond Police Department take complaints of wrongdoing very seriously, which is why we have spent the last year making sure Maj. Wise’s complaint was investigated thoroughly,” Begley said. “In taking the time necessary to conduct a complete and detailed investigation, we are confident we have gathered the information necessary to determine the best path forward for our community and the police department. Now that the investigation has concluded, we are closely reviewing its findings to determine the best course of action to address the issues raised in this complaint and ensure that everyone is treated with respect and fairness in the workplace.”

Murdock, the city attorney, offered a similar statement Jan. 31.

“The investigation has been completed, and the city is determining what actions should be taken in response to the findings,” Murdock said. “The city of Edmond including the Edmond Police Department takes all complaints received seriously and is committed to fully and completely investigating all complaints so that all parties are treated fairly.

“The public can take confidence that the necessary steps will be taken in response to the findings.”

Rigby: ‘We think this is best addressed internally at this point’

Edmond State of the City
Edmond City Manager Scot Rigby and Mayor Darrell Davis address a crowd at the 2022 State of the City on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. (Joe Tomlinson)

Whatever “necessary steps” Edmond leaders are taking as a result of the Phillips Murrah investigation, they will extend beyond the police department, City Manager Scot Rigby said May 22 after an Edmond City Council workshop.

“There’s been a final determination made, and we’re taking internal steps to improve our processes and additional training,” Rigby said. “It’s a number of different things that we’re putting in place, and not just related to a specific individual, but throughout the whole organization — not just police, but eventually key [staff citywide] to work on improving customer service and situational awareness. Those type of things.”

Rigby said he met with Murdock, Edmond Police Chief J.D. Younger and the city’s human resource director, Lisa Goodpasture, to discuss the Phillips Murrah investigation.

“We sit down and say, ‘Hey, based on what the findings are, what are our next steps and what are the plausible solutions or plan to hopefully avoid future situations or occurrences, and a lot of that has to do with training and awareness and those types of things,” Rigby said. “I think the decision is that we need to improve our training in certain areas.”

Asked to specify, Rigby reiterated the value of “communication.”

“We do a lot of communication training around customer service, but how do we communicate internally on a number of different things? (…) How do you work within — I’ll call it — a family of employees?” Rigby said.

Many of the claims lodged by Wise against Dorsey involved how the deputy chief allegedly spoke with or about fellow EPD employees, including comments about a Black woman’s hair, criticism of a Black supervisor’s voice and stereotypes about Black youth playing sports and carrying guns. Wise, a citizen of the Caddo Nation, said Dorsey once told him, “I just see you as white.” Wise said Dorsey made a variety of other comments degrading to female EPD employees and potential new hires.

Asked if the city would consider publicly releasing an executive summary of the investigation’s findings, Rigby said city leaders are not considering that at this time.

“At some future date, if we think it’s appropriate to release some or all or whatever, that is still to be determined. Right now, we do not have plans to release an executive summary. We think it’s best at this point to handle things internally to address them,” Rigby said. “And again, it’s not just about a specific individual or individuals. It’s how do we improve our organization, and why? So, our effort is to continue to improve organization-wide. Now, will it address whomever were involved in the current situation? Sure, but we want to use that as a learning and educational retention effort throughout the whole organization.”

Rigby said a decision on Dorsey’s employment is an internal process.

“It’s no different than if you had a situation with your employer. You handle internally unless there is certain levels that you think it’s a situation to go make something public,” Rigby said. “But we think this is best addressed internally at this point.”

In response to an email seeking “any final disciplinary action” involving Dorsey, Murdock said there are “no records responsive to your request.”

Mayor Darrell Davis: ‘I have no comment’

Darrell Davis
Edmond mayoral candidate Darrell Davis speaks during a debate Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at the University of Central Oklahoma. (Michael Duncan)

Asked May 17 about the city’s $213,000 investigation, Mayor Darrell Davis said he has not seen “any report.” Asked if he believes the public should be allowed to see an executive summary of the report, Davis said, “I have no comment on that.”

Asked if he was concerned by the allegations of racism, sexism and bullying made against one of EPD’s deputy police chiefs, Davis, who became Edmond’s first Black mayor in 2021, responded similarly.

“I have no comment on that, either,” Davis said.

Recently elected Ward 2 Councilman Barry Moore also declined to answer questions on the Phillips Murrah investigation, but he provided a statement.


Edmond Deputy Police Chief Tim Dorsey

‘I just want him to stop’: Year-long investigation lingers against Edmond deputy police chief by Joe Tomlinson

“This issue was investigated and concluded prior to my time as a member of city council,” Moore said. “I have no information regarding this issue. It is a personnel matter and personnel matters are handled by the city manager and city attorney.”

While the investigation was concluded before Moore was elected, there had been no formal decision from the city on the matter until after the April 4 election. (On April 17, Begley said the matter was still ongoing.)

Ward 3 Edmond City Councilwoman Christin Mugg said she has not seen the completed report and had not asked to review it, although she might at some point.

“It’s a personnel matter, and so we (as council members) don’t have access to personnel things,” Mugg said. “There’s law surrounding when personnel reports and investigations can legally be shared and what can be shared.”

Robins, the new Ward 1 councilman, said he believes the city’s current policy regarding personnel matters should be discussed with city staff and his council colleagues.

“The policy is that matters related to personnel are not disclosed,” Robins said. “Moving forward, I think it would be healthy to examine best practices regarding this policy and to see if it needs to be updated.”

An attorney, Mugg said she worried that giving her opinion about whether the public should receive a summary of the report’s findings might run contrary to state law. However, she did say “the allegations are definitely concerning.”

“I mean, it would not be OK if those allegations were true. That would be very bad,” Mugg said. “I am very concerned if the allegations are true and found to be true. I think that is troubling.”

Ward 4 Edmond Councilwoman Stacie Peterson said in a statement that she has not seen the report but believes releasing Phillips Murrah’s recommendations based on the investigation’s findings could be beneficial.

“This is a personnel issue. Police personnel are not in my city council authority,” Peterson said. “However, stating that, I think it could be helpful for the residents and the EPD employees (and) officers to be made aware of the pertinent recommendations for the department — to support our PD and (show) good faith to the community.”

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EPD major who filed formal complaint leaves state

Edmond deputy police chief
An Edmond police cruiser sits outside EPD headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (Michael McNutt)

In January 2022, then-EPD Maj. C.J. Wise filed his formal complaint against Dorsey. Wise had been with the department for 25 years, and Dorsey has been with the department for more than 30 years. Wise detailed several alleged instances of racism, sexism and bullying by Dorsey in the workplace, dating from April 2018 to April 2021. Twelve days later, the city hired Phillips Murrah to conduct the investigation, according to Murdock.

Copies of 2021 end-of-year evaluation emails between Wise and Dorsey that detailed the allegations were mailed to NonDoc anonymously in September 2022. Wise confirmed the authenticity of the emails he sent Dorsey, but he said he was not the anonymous mailer. He noted that several officers and FOP members were aware of the scathing evaluation email Wise sent Dorsey.

Wise’s formal complaint caused Murdock to hire Lisle with Phillips Murrah to investigate the allegations. Murdock said the city engaged in a verbal agreement with the law firm for the investigation and did not create a written contract with Lisle or Phillips Murrah.

Tim Dorsey
Edmond Police Department Deputy Chief of Police Tim Dorsey began his service with the EPD in 1989. (Provided)

Lisle’s investigation continued for a full year, and eventually Wise began looking for other employment. At the end of January 2023, Wise took a new job as chief of police in Salina, Kansas.

Ultimately, Wise said, the city of Edmond’s handling of the investigation forced him to seek a job elsewhere.

“I think the length of time shows that they are trying to sweep it under the rug and make it less emotional for people where, over time, they’re not as worked up about it,” Wise said in January. “I’ve worked on homicide investigations that we wrap up within a month, so this thing (is) taking over a year?”

Jason Ryan, an attorney representing Dorsey, questioned Wise’s motive for filing the complaint.

“We believe that the claims against Chief Dorsey were made out of retaliation for action taken by Chief Dorsey against Maj. Wise,” Ryan said in January. “Dorsey requested an investigation of Maj. Wise’s complaint immediately upon receiving the same, and we trust the process and believe that the results of the investigation will be favorable for Chief Dorsey.”

Neither Wise, Dorsey nor Ryan responded to additional requests for comment in the weeks prior to the publication of this story.

C.J. Wise
Before taking a job in Kansas in January 2023, Maj. C.J. Wise had been a member of the Edmond Police Department since 1998. (Facebook)

Although city leaders have declined to discuss Dorsey’s current employment status, Dorsey has appeared in uniform at Edmond City Council events in recent months.

Chris Cook, president of the Edmond Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 136, said June 28 that members of the FOP have not seen the investigatory report. Dorsey is not an Edmond FOP member, Cook said, but Wise was.

“To my knowledge, there has not been a change in Dorsey’s status or position within the department,” Cook said.

Joey Senat, a mass communication and journalism professor at Oklahoma State University who formerly lived in Edmond for about 15 years, said silence about an internal investigation deteriorates public trust.

“Unfortunately, that seems to run counter to the purpose of Open Records Act, which spells out pretty clearly Oklahomans have an inherent ‘right to know and be fully informed about their government,'” Senat said. “It also leaves the public thinking the allegation was true and that the public body, or the city in this case, is trying to cover it up.”