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Elkhart police officer found guilty of conduct violations, will remain on the force

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 9:20 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - An Elkhart police officer is mostly off the hook after the Police Merit Commission found her guilty of conduct violations.

Corporal Taryn Lanzen was sanctioned and given a 60-day unpaid suspension and a 180-day probation period following that suspension. The Police Merit Commission voted unanimously on the violation and approving the sanction. Elkhart Chief of Police Kris Seymore wanted her fired for tarnishing the reputation of the Elkhart Police Department and betraying the trust of the community.

This all began in June of 2020 after Elkhart resident Thad Werno called the Elkhart Police Department after an officer drove in his yard. That officer was Corporal Lanzen who had drove in his yard and she was the one who responded to the call, according to testimony on Thursday. That call prompted an internal investigation which brought about the information heard in Thursday’s hearing. A search online puts Werno’s age at 58-years-old.

Through the course of their interaction on that June day, it was alleged that Werno and Lanzen developed a business and personal relationship. The officer provided Werno with her business card for “Eagle Eye Home Solutions, LLC” which is a “home-flipping” business owned by her and her husband Elkhart Police Sergeant Nathan Lanzen. She also provided her personal cell phone number. The detective in the internal investigation provided this information to the commission during testimony on Thursday. Corporal Lanzen had told Werno his home needed repairs and the Lanzens would perform the work. Her body cam was not on.

Somehow over the course of a month, Taryn Lanzen became Werno’s power of attorney, executor of his will, controlled most of his finances including his retirement accounts, and became beneficiary of his retirement accounts. The deed to his house was also signed over to Lanzen, but she claims she was just trying to take care of the man and wanted to help him. She says she was not trying to do the man any harm.

The investigation revealed that Taryn Lanzen and Thad Werno had exchanged 1,188 pages worth of texts that were submitted as evidence in the case. It was revealed that Werno wanted to enter into a relationship with Lanzen and wanted her to leave her husband. Lanzen claimed in the hearing on Thursday that Werno had sexually battered her by grabbing her breast. She and her husband, both police officers, did not report the crime. They both continued on with the business relationship with Werno, as Taryn Lanzen didn’t want him to be alone and abandoned.

Werno is now suing to get his money back and reverse many of the parts of his life he signed over to Corporal Lanzen.

Her husband Sergeant Nathan Lanzen is due before the Police Merit Commission on Monday.

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