BEACHWOOD, Ohio (WJW) – The Beachwood police chief and the city now want a judge to help solve a mystery. 

Police Chief Katherine Mclaughlin and the city filed the lawsuit asking a judge to find out who has been sending anonymous emails criticizing her and other city officials.

The lawsuit was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The defendant in the lawsuit is “John Doe.”

Mclaughlin says she doesn’t mind criticism, but the social media posts and emails are “malicious” and causing harm to her reputation, the city’s operations and others.

In November, Beachwood council voted to spend money to hire a law firm to determine the identity of the sender of an anonymous email that criticized police leadership. Some council members objected, saying an anonymous emailer is a whistleblower and has first amendment rights that should be protected.

“I have been in law enforcement for 22 years now, and throughout my career I have been criticized several times, some fairly and some unfairly,” the chief told the I-Team. “I have never taken legal action until now. Some of the posts I felt went past the point of criticism.”

She said some of the posts and emails talked about her marriage and accused her of illegal acts.

Mclaughlin added that she feels she has been unfairly criticized since being hired in 2021. She said when she was hired, she was not married and it was brought to her attention that a city council member was questioning if she could do the job.

“It was brought to my attention that one of the council members said to more than one person that she was questioning if a a single mother could be chief of police,” Mclaughlin said. “She did not feel I could do both of those jobs well. When I learned about that, I was very upset and I reported it to the law department. The law department investigated and found out it was true.”

The chief said the council member was suppose to call her, but never did.

The police union recently issues a no confidence vote against the chief and deputy chief.

City leaders, including the mayor, have praised Mclaughlin’s work, saying she reduced overtime by about 40% and restructured the department to provide more opportunities for promotion and shift supervision.

The chief says she was disappointed by the vote and has been trying to understand and identify the concerns.