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Former police spokeswoman said text from Straub made her ‘uncomfortable’

The former police spokeswoman who was transferred out of the department earlier this year in an episode that has been linked to the eventual firing of police Chief Frank Straub said she was made to feel uncomfortable by a text sent to her by the chief.

A message Monique Cotton received from Straub in 2013 said “See you soon. Love you. You are an awesome partner and best friend. You always will be!”

Cotton, who now works in communications for the city parks department, released a statement about the text Friday evening.

“The message was a one way communication from my former supervisor to me and another member of the command staff,” Cotton said. “It was odd and uncomfortable and I did not respond.”

Straub’s texts were released as part of public records released by the city late Friday afternoon. The Spokesman-Review filed the request on Aug. 18. Straub could not be reached late Friday.

City officials initially denied there were any problems between Straub and Cotton when Cotton was transferred to the parks department. But they later acknowledged that problems between the two did play a role in Cotton’s job change.

Cotton was hired by Straub in 2013 to lead the department’s communications and marketing strategy, a role she maintained until May when she was transferred from police to parks.

In a series of texts sent on the morning of Aug. 23, 2013, Monique Cotton asked Capt. Keith Cummings and Lt. Mark Griffiths if she could release any information about the arrest of one of the suspects in the beating death of Delbert “Shorty” Belton. Though their responses are not seen, she thanked them and said she’ll talk with them before sending any statements to the media. She then asked if they will attend the executive staff meeting at 8 that morning.

At 7:05 a.m., she sent Straub and Capt. Dan Torok a text that said “Sent,” perhaps referring to a statement to the media about the arrest of the suspect. Straub thanked her, and she replied, “You’re welcome. Very important for community to know the amazing work we are doing to keep city safe.”

Straub replied, to both Cotton and Torok, “See you soon. Love you. You are an awesome partner and best friend. You always will be!”

Straub then sent another a minute later that said, “Group hugs this morning at the briefing.”

A text from Straub with the same time stamp as the last text said, “Dan you are totally awesome as well. I love you. Good advice on both your parts.”

A minute later, he sent Cotton and Torok another text saying, “I am very lucky to be the chief here.”

Another minute and a half passed, and Straub texted again: “It is great to have strong partners – especially ones that challenge me to do my best for the good of the department.”

The records were requested on Aug. 18, and were scheduled to be released on Oct. 29, just days before the general election. On the morning of Oct. 29, city Attorney Nancy Isserlis delayed the release. Officials said she needed to review it further.

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