MONTICELLO — The Monticello City Council voted 5-0 late Tuesday to fire the city's police chief on the heels of the controversy surrounding the way a 911 domestic violence call was handled last month.
Kent Adair, who has been with the department for 30 years, had been on paid leave since mid-December. Tuesday night, Monticello City Manager Ty Bailey said the difficult decision was made to let him go.
Bailey said while he still respects the former chief, he supports the City Council's decision to do "what was best for the future of the city."
"I think it was just the council's concession it was time for a change. I don't know any of the reasons why each person would have voted. I think everybody had their own reason. But I know it was a difficult decision for them, and they took it very seriously," he said.
On Dec. 2, the estranged wife of Monticello Police Sgt. Jesse Cole Young, 36, called 911 to report that Young had entered her home and assaulted a man inside, and then drove away drunk.
But a San Juan County sheriff's sergeant didn't respond to the woman's house until the following morning, several hours later. The emergency dispatcher who took the woman's 911 call contacted Adair before dispatching an officer. The call, which was recorded, raised concerns about how the two reacted to the incident.
In the days that followed the incident, Young was fired from the police department and charged in 7th District Court with aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony, and assault, a class B misdemeanor. The dispatcher who took the call was placed on administrative leave pending a final decision on discipline. And the sheriff's sergeant who was supposed to respond was demoted to the rank of deputy and suspended without pay for 30 days.
Bailey said on Wednesday that Adair was not fired solely for the 911 incident. But he then said it essentially came down to what was best for the police department moving forward and getting a "fresh start."
"It is really difficult. I don't think there's any winners in this scenario so far," Bailey said. "Everybody recognizes we can do better. That's kind of the road we're on."
Bailey acknowledged that Adair is still an important member of the community and that a lot of residents have much respect for him.
"I think the world of him. I enjoyed the time I had to work with him," he said.
But Bailey said he agreed it is time to move on.
"I don't think anybody liked the timing. I think it was the right decision," he said.
With Adair's dismissal and Young's firing, the Monticello Police Department was down to one member on Wednesday. Bailey is in charge of the department until a new chief is appointed. He said the search for that person would begin immediately.