Evansville Police Officer Steve Hicks, the department's 2012 Officer of the Year and Field Training Officer of the Year, will be off suspension on Tuesday. However, he could still be terminated by the Merit Commission next month. While he cannot come back to work until his case is heard, Officer Hicks will still receive a paycheck in the meantime, according to EPD officials.
On September 18th, the department's Internal Affairs unit started it's investigation into allegations that Hicks had violated several department policies. The allegations stemmed from Hicks' interaction with a female at a local bar in mid-September. Investigators say Hicks was dispatched to Rick's 718 Bar for a noise complaint. A week later, sources and police say the officer came back on a self-initiated run. During both of those instances, police say the woman the officer was talking to was made to feel uncomfortable. As part of the investigation, Internal Affairs collected statements from witnesses and as well as surveillance video.
While this well-decorated officer's future at the Evansville Police Department could be in jeopardy, Eyewitness News investigates this officer's past, revealing what some may consider a significant warning sign.
Prior to joining the Evansville Police Department in 2004, Officer Steve Hicks spent five years working for the Bowling Green Police Department. Through the Freedom of Information Act, Eyewitness News obtained his personnel file from his stint at the Bowling Green Police Department.
In a memo sent to the B.G.P.D. brass in the Spring of 2003, Hicks was placed on paid administrative leave in light of allegations of a domestic disturbance between Officer Hicks and his now ex-wife. According to the case log obtained by Eyewitness News, authorities were dispatched to the home Officer Hicks shared with his now ex-wife, Brooke.
During the March 26, 2003 domestic dispute, records show Brooke stated Officer Hicks, 'threw the TV remote, flipped a plate off the table, kicked and broke a door,' according to department records. However, Brooke stopped short of alleging Officer Hicks directed any violence toward her. According to department records, the incident occurred while their daughter was just feet away.
In previous arguments, Brooke stated Officer Hicks pointed his department-issued pistol at his head and threatened to commit suicide, according to department records. Records show Brooke had also stated that Officer Hicks threatened to commit suicide while on-duty in a secluded area of his designated beat.
Once they arrived, responding officers then helped Brooke obtain an emergency order of protection against Officer Hicks.
Two days later, as the internal investigation continued, records show Brooke stated that she and officer hicks had been involved in several arguments that resulted in officer hicks preventing her from calling 9-1-1. During Officer Hicks' interview, he told investigators he 'felt crushed' when Brooke stated she wanted a divorce and had feelings for another man. Records show Hicks admitted to becoming angry, admitted to his part in the domestic dispute and admitted to making suicidal statements "in an effort to make [his ex-wife] feel guilty," according to department records.
After the incident, Brooke also filed an order of protection against Officer Hicks. A few weeks later, both parties agreed to let the protective order expire which allowed Officer Hicks to return to work in late April 2003. Before doing so, however, officer hicks had to undergo a psychological exam, according to department records.
No charges were filed in the case.
In October 2004, a year and a half after the incident, Officer Hicks left his position at BGPD to join the Evansville Police Department.
It's unclear whether the incident came up during Officer Hicks' screening process prior to joining the EPD. Evansville Police Officials could not comment but did say a multi-part screening process was in place when Hicks applied nine years ago. That process includes a thorough application which asks the applicant if they have been convicted of any domestic violence related offenses. Among other things, the screening process also includes an in-depth background investigation, according to police. At the completion of the background investigation, it's turned over to the Merit Commission who makes the final decision whether to hire the officer.
While Hicks' personnel file from the Bowling Green Police Department featured several commendations for outstanding police work, there were several records of written or verbal reprimands. Prior to attending the Academy to become a Bowling Green Police Officer, Hicks was investigated for allegedly firing his personal gun in 'reckless manner' near a friend's property, according to records obtained by Eyewitness News. No charges were filed in that case and Hicks would report to the Academy a few months later.
Officer Hicks has denied our requests for comment. His hearing before the Merit Commission is scheduled for November 4th.