Chief Ealum discusses OPD termination of officer

February 22, 2024 | 12:12 am

Updated February 22, 2024 | 12:44 am

Art Ealum

Owensboro Police Department Chief of Police Art Ealum held a press conference and detailed the OPD officer was terminated for violating the department’s body camera policy, along with other nondisclosed violations.

The conference can be seen here on Owensboro Times’ Facebook.

Officer Aleph Zavala, who started with the department in December 2021, received a complaint on December 8, 2023 which was then reported to OPD officials on December 9. Ealum said when he received the complaint, he immediately called the Post Commander at Kentucky State Police.

“Once we learned of the potential allegations that day, it didn’t take an hour; it didn’t take 30 minutes. It took less than five minutes [to call KSP]. Because of some of the information that we discovered, I reached out to KSP to have them conduct a criminal investigation,” Ealum said.

Ealum said the complaint involved Zavala not wearing his issued body camera while interacting with civilians, among other conduct.

“We’re talking about unbecoming conduct, interacting with the public without the use of body cams, and such,” Ealum said.

Ealum declined to comment on the ongoing investigations and the criminal charges that Zavala is facing. Ealum noted that KSP is leading the investigation on the criminal charges while OPD will continue an investigation on administrative violations.

A major part for the investigation was Zavala’s termination from the department at a special called City Commission meeting Wednesday morning.

While they are investigating, Ealum said the department doesn’t plan to update or strengthen its body camera policy.

The Body Worn Camera policy states that patrol officers should wear their body cam at all times except for 15 minute breaks, restroom breaks, being in their private residence and when having a meeting with another City of Owensboro employee.

“The policies are in place and they are good, but just like anything else if people don’t abide by the rules, then we take action. An aggressive action that was taken today sets the tone for others,” Ealum said.

February 22, 2024 | 12:12 am

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