GARRETT, Ind. (WANE) – Garrett Mayor Todd Fiandt tells WANE 15 he asked Police Chief Roland McPherson for his resignation, citing “performance-related issues.”
In March, the DeKalb County prosecutor ClaraMary Winebrenner claimed that a 2020 death investigation was “significantly compromised” because police didn’t follow protocol.
In May 2020, Garrett police responded to a home where David Converset’s wife reported his death.
When a police captain and sergeant arrived, rigor mortis had already set in. They told detectives they did not have to respond.
A crime scene technician and state police detectives weren’t called either – which the prosecutor says is also against protocol.
“The only thing I can say is I’m not law enforcement, but I’m going to check into it. I’m disappointed in my police department if this all happened and there was protocol to be followed, but I’m checking into it,” Mayor Fiandt told WANE 15 in March.
State police did eventually get involved and gathered enough evidence to charge the wife – Michelle Converset. She pleaded guilty to aggravated battery.
A second person might have been involved, but the prosecutor said that couldn’t be confirmed because the police investigation was compromised.
In March, McPherson told WANE 15 that not every unattended death meets the criteria for the prosecutor’s protocol, and that his agency will not always be able to call a detective to every scene.
“We did call the coroner,” McPherson said. “We called the expert. It was handled accordingly.”
The KPC reports that Mayor Fiandt hired DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Gerald Kline to be the next Garrett police chief. Kline is currently a School Resource Officer for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools and will finish the school year before a swearing-in ceremony on June 7, the KPC reported.
In response to McPherson’s termination, DeKalb County Prosecuting Attorney ClaraMary Winebrenner told WANE 15 she hopes the citizens of Garrett will be well protected by their police department going forward.
“This is only one of the things wrong with the Garrett Police Department, so I hope this change will take care of all the different problems,” Winebrenner said.
McPherson started his role as Garrett Police Chief on June 27, 2016. He was previously a sergeant with the Auburn Police Department. Mayor Fiandt hired him four months after he fired the then chief Keith Hefner in February 2016. Fiandt didn’t disclose to WANE 15 in 2016 why he let Hefner go, saying he’d “let sleeping dogs lie.”
Hefner was appointed police chief in 2012 by former Mayor Tonya Hoeffel. Hoeffel passed away while in office in September 2015.