Police chiefs request rejected to terminate officer


by Jacob Ryan


Posted on October 8, 2013 at 11:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 8 at 11:41 PM

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11)-- A New Albany police officer was on the brink of termination, but will remain with the force, despite high ranking police leader’s doubts.

Patrolman Philip Houchin has been on paid administrative leave for a majority of 2013 after Chief Sheri Knight requested the Police Merit Commission fire the officer based on lack of capacity and fitness.

The five-member voted 4-1 to deny Knight’s request, the chief’s second, and will reinstate Officer Houchin to active duty.

Houchin has worked for the department since 2005 and the commission’s attorney, Brandon Smith, said he believes the decision is fair.

“I think it’s a decision that’s strongly supported by the evidence,” he said.

What led to questions of Houchin’s ability has not been released.

Chief Knight said she hopes the “commission fully considered the potential risks and consequences associated” with Houchin’s reinstatement.

She said steps need to be taken to ensure that Houchin remain on his medications and continues his treatment, “so as to safely do his job.”

In June, Knight filed administrative charges citing that Houchin did not have the capacity or fitness for duty, along with two other charges stemming from unspecified conduct unbecoming an officer also filed by Knight in June.

Houchin was evaluated by three doctors during two evenings of evidentiary hearings in private sessions last month.  Those three doctors testified that the officer was fit to serve, said John Hall, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Post Lodge 99.

Hall said members of the Fraternal Order of Police thought that Houchin was “being done an injustice.”

Following a few weeks on day shift, Houchin will undergo a refresher training course, then be reassigned to 3rd shift, where he had previously worked.

Hall, speaking on Houchin’s behalf, said the officer was “excited to be back to work and put this behind him.”