PLEASANT VIEW — An attorney for Pleasant View's now former police chief says the 17-year veteran was fired Saturday after a tense meeting with city leaders the day before.
Attorney Randy Neal, who specializes in law enforcement employment cases, says problems arose between Chief Scott Jackson, new Mayor Toby Mileski and city administrator Melinda Greenwood as the chief was investigating a complaint filed against an officer in the department.
"That was unusual because typically citizen complaints about the police are handled initially by the police chief," Neal said. "There was nothing like this in the past, and there were no complaints against the chief."
Jackson met with city leaders Friday morning to determine what their roles are in police personnel issues, and "tempers flared," Neal said. The next day, Jackson was dismissed in a special closed City Council meeting, with Mileski breaking a tie vote, 3-2.
Greenwood issued a news release Monday on behalf of the City Council, announcing that Jackson had been unappointed in a closed meeting regarding "character, professional competence, or physical or mental health."
No further explanation was offered in the release, which said it would be inappropriate to comment about personnel matters and thanked Jackson for his service.
"His many years of dedicated service are appreciated, and the impact of his positive contributions to the community will be recognized for many years to come," the release stated.
An estimated two-thirds of the city's police force came to the meeting and waited in the City Council chambers while elected officials met privately in conference room, Neal said.
The council denied Jackson's request to postpone the meeting two hours so Neal could attend, and another lawyer sent in his place was not allowed to enter the room while Jackson was called in to be questioned, Neal said.
Neal argues that the emergency meeting was unwarranted, the discussion should not have happened behind closed doors, and the mayor did not have the authority to break the tie vote.
"There was no need to rush this issue," he said. "They simply wanted to strike while their emotions were high. It was ego-driven, unquestionably. … We don't know what was discussed in there. The chief was not allowed to be in there while they openly said pretty much whatever they wanted to say about the chief."
Neal said Jackson is prepared to take legal action against the city over the dismissal, though he hopes it won't be necessary.
"My first hope would be, rather than running off to litigation, that the people of the city of Pleasant View are going to go make their voices heard," Neal said.