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FOIL response: Geneva police chief remains on paid leave as personnel investigation continues

Geneva’s police chief remains on paid administrative leave. 

That statement came from City Manager Amie Hendrix on Monday after FingerLakes1.com received documents from a Freedom of Information Law request filed on January 10, 2024.

Matthew Colton, who was appointed chief of police in July 2023, was placed on paid administrative leave in early-January because of an ‘oral personnel complaint’ against him. The FOIL response noted that no disciplinary charges had been brought against the Chief as of February 12.

In its response to our FOIL request the city released a limited set of documents — covering communications between City Council, City Staff, and legal representatives between December 1, 2023 and January 10, 2024. Some redactions were made to the documents before their release. 

Altogether, six documents were released as part of the FOIL request.

The first page is a ‘Report of Personnel Change’. The only comments related to the chief’s leave is under a section titled ‘comments’ which reads: “Paid administrative leave effective 1/5/2024; Extend probationary period since time spent on paid administrative leave does not count towards probationary period.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The second page is a letter from Hendrix to Colton. It reads, “You are hereby placed on administrative leave immediately, pending an investigation into a personnel complaint against you.” It notes that he must turn in his firearm, keys, and related City of Geneva equipment as of the notification, which is dated January 5. He’s instructed to not come to the workplace, complete any work, or access work email and/or GPD systems while on paid leave. It notes that Colton should be available ‘on short notice’ to attend meetings related to the investigation and that failure to meet any of the requirements or refusal to comply could result in disciplinary action — up to and including termination.

The third page is an email dated January 29, which advised Colton he was to appear for an interview at City Hall on February 2 at 11 a.m. The interview was conducted at the City’s request by Ian Boehner of Public Sector HR Consultants, LLC. The email stated that Colton had the option to have legal representation present.

The fourth page is the email notification from Hendrix, which went out to city staff that Colton was being placed on administrative leave. “As of 12:53 p.m. today, January 5, 2024 Police Chief Matthew Colton has been placed on administrative leave,” the email reads — noting that Lt. Ronald Eveland would be serving as police chief while the investigation unfolds. “This news might raise questions and concerns that can’t be fully answered due to the nature of this matter. While this may prove to be a challenging time, I appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we evaluate this situation. I know the men and women of this department will pull together to support one another and Lieutenant Eveland as he serves in this temporary role, as we all remain committed to providing our team members with a supportive and respectful workplace.”

The final two pages of the FOIL request are re-sends of the same email on page four to department heads and city council.