Police Blunder Proves Costly

CLEVELAND - Cleveland Police crushed an innocent woman's car without her knowing, and no one in the police department was disciplined as a result.

The Investigator Tom Meyer has learned that the paperwork for Jamie Haithcock's car was mishandled and placed in the wrong file. Instead of being placed in what's called a "hold" file, police placed the records in a "destroy" file.

Haithcock learned of the huge mistake when she went to the police impound unit to pay her towing fees. She said that police officers there were unsympathetic and told her that they couldn't do anything to help her.

The day after The Investigator reported the mistake, the city's moral claims committee met and decided to compensate Haithcock. It was only a partial victory for Haithcock because the city felt the car wasn't worth as much as Haithcock said it was, and City Hall also refused to reimburse her for $1,100 in stereo equipment that was inside the car when the city destroyed it.

City councilman Martin Sweeney said that the police department makes this kind of mistake at least a dozen times a year, and he blames it on poor communication between police and the courts.

Sweeney said that the system has to improve.

Cleveland Police Chief Mary Bounds apologized, saying it was clearly the police department's fault, and she claims she's instituted reforms to make sure it doesn't happen again. The chief decided against any disciplinary action.