St. Paris Police Chief placed on administrative leave; mayor alleges insubordination, neglect of duty

St. Paris Police Chief placed on administrative leave; mayor alleges insubordination, neglect of duty
Erica Barga (File Photo)

ST. PARIS — St. Paris Police Chief Erica Barga was placed on paid administrative leave ahead of a public hearing later this month following allegations of insubordination and neglect of duty by the village’s mayor, according to documents obtained by News Center 7 Wednesday.

The complaint and charges were brought by Mayor Brenda Cook, and alleged Barga “engaged in numerous incidents of insubordination and disrespectful treatment of her supervisor,” Cook said in the complaint.

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Barga was placed on leave Monday ahead of the next village council meeting Nov. 16, where Barga will have a chance to answer to the charges, Cook told News Center 7.

Cook accused Barga of being argumentative and disrespectful in multiple meetings involving the two since Aug. 2019. One of those meetings, described as a performance counseling meeting, Cook said Barga “argued and challenged” her during the meeting and refused to stop using her personal cell phone for village business and carry a village-provided phone, according to the allegations.

The complaint also alleges Barga typically works less than the required 40 hours per week, which causes the village to schedule additional officers to work regular or overtime hours.

“This unnecessarily increases payroll costs and wastes taxpayer dollars. In the alternative, no police coverage is provided for the village during Barga’s frequent absences, which is equally unacceptable because it results in a lack of service for the citizens of St. Paris,” Cook said in the complaint.

The complaint also alleges Barga missed multiple scheduled meetings, did not provide required reports to the mayor, and did not properly use paid leave, by either filing inaccurate forms or not filling out forms at all.

We’ll continue to update this story as we learn more.