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Battle Creek news conference prompts more questions than answers

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A choreographed news conference prompts more questions than answers, as to why two top cops at the Battle Creek Police Department are on paid leave.

We have been waiting since Wednesday to confirm with city leaders, a romantic relationship between inspector Maria Alonso and Deputy Chief Jim Saylor, sparked a new internal investigation.

The interim city manager says the investigation was prompted by concerns brought to the attention of city officials, but would not say, who that was.

"Please note - we will not entertain questions at the conclusion of these statements," said Interim City Manager Susan Bedsole.

Reading a prepared statement, Interim City Manager Susan Bedsle said the city is merely dealing with allegations.

"The investigation relates to an alleged personal relationship that may have created a hostile work environment, thereby having a negative impact on the department and its personnel. Certain job performance issues are also included," said Bedsole.

"I cannot allow even the perception that we have compromised our integrity, command or ethical practices," said Interim Police Chief Jim Blocker.

Multiple police sources tell Newschannel 3 about a year ago, city commissioners filed a formal complaint for the city to investigate an alleged inappropriate relationship between Saylor and Alonso.

Our sources say one of those commissioners was Dave Walters who is now the city's Mayor. Police sources also say former City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama and Retired Battle Creek Police Chief Jackie Hampton concluded in the original investigation the relationship did not violate city policy.

City Commissioner Mike Sherzer, a retired BCPD Lieutenant says commissioners were told by city officials the case would be re-opened several days ago.

"We've had other officers who have had relationships in the past we've got officers that have been married since they came into the department so i guess we got to figure out the details of the specifics," said Commissioner Sherzer.

"Frankly it is time to get back to the Battle Creek Police Department being in the news, and not being the subject of the news," said Interim Chief Jim Blocker.

Deputy Chief Jim Saylor had no comment.

The interim city manager expects the investigation to be complete in about a month.