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MARYLAND HEIGHTS • Complaints about an unfair work environment prompted the paid suspensions of the police chief and a top commander here Thursday.

A news release from city officials says Chief Bill Carson and Deputy Chief Joe Delia are on paid administrative leave while city leaders begin an “in-depth review of the operation” of the Maryland Heights Police Department.

Carson’s salary is $127,100 and Delia’s is $106,340.

Capt. Mike Klos, a 31-year veteran of the department, has been named acting chief during the review, according to the release.

The suspensions are to “ensure a balanced and impartial department review in the coming weeks,” according to a statement from City Administrator Jim Krischke.

He said the personnel changes would not affect service.

“The city is committed to ensuring that all employees can work in a safe environment and express their opinions without fear of retribution,” Krischke wrote in his statement. “This philosophy will guide our actions moving forward.”

Carson also serves as the chairman of the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association and is a member of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. It’s unclear whether his suspension will affect those roles.

“He will remain a member of the board of directors unless a final determination and action on behalf of their city occurs,” said Ray Johnson, who is Chesterfield police chief and chairman of the Major Case Squad board.

Delia’s attorney Chet Pleban plans a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday at which he said he will “vigorously respond” to allegations he said were made by Mayor Mike Moeller and the mayor’s “irresponsible behavior” in suspending the chief and deputy chief. Moeller did not return a call for comment.

“At a time when public safety is critical to communities in the St. Louis metropolitan area, the Mayor of Maryland Heights has recklessly and irresponsibly removed both Bill Carson, the Chief of Police, and Joe Delia, the Assistant Chief of Police, leaving the department with a lack of permanent leadership at the top,” Pleban said in an emailed statement. “Both decorated officers have been with the department for a combined total of over 50 years.”

Carson’s secretary referred all questions to Krischke, who could not immediately be reached Thursday. Krischke became the city’s administrator about seven months ago.

The police department has 77 full-time officers including command staff. Earlier this month, the City Council authorized Krischke to hire a firm to review and assess the department’s operations. A ceiling of $40,000 was set for the review. A city spokeswoman said a contract is pending.

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