REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH) – For the first time, active Reynoldsburg police officers are going on the record about what they call a toxic work environment.

Three former employees with the Reynoldsburg Police Department came forward to NBC4 in November 2022, and cited poor working conditions and retaliation as their reasons for leaving. Ricardo Thompson said the final straw was when he called out sick due to an injury he sustained during his previous shift, and leadership showed up at his home to see if he was there.

Curtis Baker, The Reynoldsburg Chief of Police, contested their account of his department in a follow-up interview with NBC4.

“Well, any time you have unhappy people, you want to try to make it a workplace that people like. We will continue to do that,” Baker said. “Just as you hear feedback from people that have negative opinions, we have many within the agency that are happy with the way things are going. So we’re going to focus on that.”

However, six different active duty officers within Baker’s agency doubled down on the perspective shared by coworkers who left the force. The group spoke to NBC4 on the condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation for speaking from within the department.

Rumblings about the working conditions at the Reynoldsburg Police Department began going public when Mayor Joe Begeny released the results of an audit on the department. Conducted by a third-party company called PRADCO, the mayor said the audit cost roughly $22,000.

“That was a waste of time and money, and all of our energy,” one officer said.

Another officer elaborated further.

“They didn’t want to have any specific incidents,” another officer told NBC4. “Now, specifics were given. And they generalized as much as they could to make that as bland as possible to get the city its answer of what they wanted was, ‘You got some issues, but it’s really not that bad.’ No, it’s bad.”

Other officers in the group then told NBC4 about Baker’s reaction to receiving the results of the audit.

“He was, he was silent for about two weeks after that. And I was just waiting for something, like, ‘This report is here, Chief. Make a comment to us. Lead us,’” an officer said.

The department tried to take some corrective measures, including starting a shared online document where employees could anonymously submit complaints. However, the group of officers said that wasn’t quite true.

“It says who edited it,” the officers said. “Oh yeah. It says, ‘Last modified by—‘ … It’s not anonymous. It’s not anonymous at all.”

The group has said their trust in the department’s leadership has only further eroded since the audit.

“He knows there’s a morale issue,” an officer said. “He just says that it’s not his problem, that it’s on us to fix it.”

The group referenced a comment in Baker’s previous interview with NBC4.

“There’s always going to be employees that are not happy,” Baker said. “You’re going to have that in any workplace. You probably have that in your workplace.”

The Reynoldsburg police chief did not respond to NBC4’s requests for comment on this follow-up story. However, the group of officers responded to Baker’s past comments as part of their grievances.

“He’s absolutely right, there are bound to be a few people – keyword: a few — a handful of people that aren’t happy and don’t agree with change and everything like that. I understand that,” an officer said. “But when you have the majority of people looking at ‘there’s a problem,’ then there’s a problem.”