Lieutenant and former Chief Richard Jennings has been fired from the Smithville Police Department for alleged violations of police department policies and procedures as well as possible violations of state and federal law. He is accused of removing weapons, inventory files, ammunition, and other items from the police department, some of which were allegedly found in his personal possession.
Since last Friday, August 3rd, Jennings has been on suspension with pay pending termination, following an internal police department investigation, and Thursday afternoon, the case against him was presented to the city's discipline hearing authority, which is made up of Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Cecil Burger, and City Recorder Burnace Vandergriff. After hearing the evidence, the vote was 3 to 0 to terminate Jennings.
Neither Jennings nor his attorney were present for Thursday's hearing. Jennings was aware of the hearing but his attorney, Adam Parrish of Lebanon, notified city attorney John Pryor that Jennings was waiving his right to appear before the three member discipline board and would appeal his case to the entire board of mayor and aldermen, which has the final say, at the next meeting on Monday, August 20th at 7:00 p.m.
WJLE was unable to reach Jennings Thursday afternoon, but he returned our calls Thursday night. Jennings would not make any comment about the allegations against him or his termination and he referred all questions to his attorney. Mr. Parrish was in court Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
The statement of violations (allegations) against Jennings are as follows:
Violation of the Smithville Police Department Policies and Procedures Section 4- 803 (2)- Failure to take proper care of city equipment, or theft of city property.
(1). The removal of (1) AR-15 machine gun and (3) concussion hand grenades and a 14 inch tactical shotgun from the department armory and found in (Jennings) personal possession (personal vehicle, personal residence).
(2) Smithville Police Department Official Inventory files, inclusive of dates April 20th, 2007- July 29th, 2007.
(3). Removal and personal possession of miscellaneous items depicted on Smithville Police Department Evidence Receipts 3044-3051 to include: (905) rounds of .223 ammunition, (97) shotgun rounds (various calibers), H&K parts, tools and (1) machine gun streamlight laser/flashlight from the Smithville Police Department.
Violation of the Smithville Police Department Policies and Procedures Section 4-803 (11)-Intentional deviation from established work procedures without authorization from the Supervisor.
(1) Did take numerous items from the Police Department without authorization (all items listed above)
(2) Assigned to maintain logistical support of department's equipment inventory and did not maintain inventory control logs for departmental inspection.
To be filed:
Violation of TCA (state law)- Possession of an unauthorized machine gun and explosives.
(1) Lieutenant Jennings was acting out of the scope of his assigned duties and employment by removing a city owned federally registered machine gun from city property without authorization, to his personal possession.
(2). Lieutenant Jennings was acting out of the scope of his assigned duties and employment by removing (3) concussion hand grenades from the police department armory and keeping them at his personal residence without authorization.
Violation of TCA (state law)- Theft of Property.
(1.) Lieutenant Jennings did take without permission of the owner (City of Smithville):
(1) AR-15 machine gun and (3) concussion hand grenades, and Remington Tactical Shotgun.
(2) (905) rounds of .223 ammunition, (97) shotgun rounds, (10) AR-15 clips, and miscellaneous tools were taken from the police department without permission. Items were later turned over by Lieutenant Jennings with a receipt being signed by Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Evidence Custodian.
(3) Lieutenant Jennings did remove a Tactical Police Radio from the police department without authorization.
(4) Lieutenant Jennings did remove Smithville Police Department Official Inventory Files, inclusive of dates April 20th, 2007- July 29th, 2007.
In accordance with TCA (state law), the officer must be notified of the charges and sanctions and given an opportunity to respond with counsel.
Before any dismissal, demotion, suspension without pay or transfer for punitive reasons, the officer shall be notified in writing of all charges, the basis therefore, and the action which may be taken.
The police officer shall be given an opportunity, within a reasonable time limit after the date of the written notice provided, to respond orally and in writing to the charges. The time limit shall be determined by the agency, but in no event shall it be less than (5) calendar days unless agreed to by the police officer.