Officer’s husband speaks out about fire chief

Ronna LawlessStaff Writer

The husband of a Nevada police officer says he and his wife are not satisfied with the outcome of the city’s investigation of a sexual harassment complaint against the fire chief, and are calling for his dismissal from the city.

Ray Reynolds was removed from his position as sergeant with the city’s police department on April 25, but retained his role as director of fire and EMS, said Ric Martinez, the director of public safety who oversees the joint police-fire operation in the city.

While Martinez has not discussed specifically the reasons for the move, or Reynolds’ subsequent leave of absence from the department, the husband of the female officer at the center of the dispute said neither he nor his wife feel that the city handled the situation adequately, and they don’t feel Reynolds should be allowed to remain an employee of the city.

Officer Holly Bowman declined to talk about the circumstances surrounding her complaint of sexual harassment against Reynolds, but talking on her behalf, her husband Joey said his wife had been told that the investigation into her complaint is closed.

Joey Bowman said the investigation into his wife’s complaint took 60 days before a conclusion was reached.

“The actual facts and findings were obviously mislabeled on the final documentation to my spouse, as it was filed as a sexual harassment report, but the final document states harassment alone, thus reducing the sheer unprofessionalism of the accused to a simple harassment complaint in his personnel file,” Joey Bowman said.

City Administrator Elizabeth Hansen confirmed that the investigation into Bowman’s complaint has been completed. The city takes any harassment complaint by an employee seriously, Hansen said.

Disciplining Reynolds for harassment was no less serious than disciplining him for sexual harassment, she said.

“Harassment of any kind is against our city policies,” Hansen said.

Reynolds said he looks forward to putting the matter behind him and moving forward.

“I’ve looked in the mirror and I’m doing what I can to grow from this incident to have better boundaries with employees,” Reynolds said. “Joke or no joke, all employees need to feel like work is comfortable.”

Joey Bowman said the harassment began when his wife was riding in a car with Reynolds during training before she went to the academy.

An old song came on the radio and Bowman wanted to turn the radio up. Reynolds turned the car radio’s volume down and took out his phone, saying he had a better song he wanted to play for Bowman.

The song was “Earned It” by The Weeknd, a song from the soundtrack of “50 Shades of Grey.” Joey Bowman said his wife thought it was a very sexual song.

“She was dumbfounded as to why he would play this song for her,” Joey Bowman said.

Reynolds continued to send Officer Bowman text messages about the song, including on which radio station it was playing, Joey Bowman said.

Holly Bowman asked Reynolds several times to stop the messages because they made her uncomfortable, her husband said.

Holly Bowman had a serious confrontation with Reynolds about it while she was attending the law enforcement academy. After that, Reynolds sent no further text messages regarding the song, Joey Bowman said.

“I have apologized for a text message I thought was harmless,” said Reynolds, who returned from leave on Tuesday. “I cannot judge the motivations of others and I won’t comment on their continued efforts to give this incident life.”

Holly Bowman has worked for the Nevada Police Department for just over a year. She previously worked for the Indiana State Police for five years, with a “flawless record of professionalism and dedication,” her husband said.

Reynolds has been Nevada’s director of fire and EMS since March of 2014. Prior to coming to Nevada, Reynolds served as the state fire marshal. He had stepped down from that position in the fall of 2013 to become the special agent in charge of the State Building Code and Inspection Unit.

Hansen said reporting of any kind of harassment follows the same steps. First, the employee reports the incident to their supervisor, department head or directly to Hansen.

“Then the city will conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of the complaint,” Hansen said. “Discipline is determined by the findings of that investigation.”

Hansen said that in this situation, the matter was brought to her attention by Martinez.

“We immediately conducted a reasonable and fair investigation of this complaint with the assistance of City Attorney Erin Clanton,” Hansen said.

“From the beginning of the complaint process, we absolutely took the harassment complaint very seriously,” Hansen said. She said that the investigation involved asking several people for formal and informal comments, and all of those comments were taken into consideration.

Joey Bowman contends that Reynolds also touched Holly Bowman once while on patrol. He said Officer Bowman had been upset about something, and Reynolds had reached over and touched her. He said she couldn’t remember whether Reynolds had touched her on the arm or the leg, but it had made her uncomfortable, and she told him not to touch her. Joey Bowman said Reynolds had not touched Officer Bowman again after that incident.

The Bowmans will not comment on whether they are considering or have filed a lawsuit or an official complaint with an outside agency, such as the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

Joey Bowman said his wife is scared of losing her job.

“She loves her job and loves what she does. She hasn’t ever had this happen before, so she didn’t know exactly what to do,” Joey Bowman said. “But she shouldn’t have to worry about being a sexual object when she goes to work.”

Hansen said Bowman’s complaint did not put her job in jeopardy.

“We strictly prohibit retaliation,” Hansen said. “Retaliation is grounds for immediate dismissal. That is something that is made very clear to all of our employees.”