Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings has been fired.
The City of Smithville's discipline board met briefly Tuesday morning at city hall and by a vote of 2 to 1, dismissed Chief Jennings.
Members of the board, Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks and Mayor Taft Hendrixson both voted in concurrence with the suspension and termination. Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson voted against the suspension and termination.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Hendrixson read the causes for the suspension without pay, pending termination.
In response, Jennings read from a written statement, "To Mayor Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson. I have reviewed the allegations lodged against me by Police Commissioner Meeks. If these allegations were true and if you looked at them individually, or all together, they do not remotely rise to the level of cause that would require my termination from the City of Smithville. I have operated at all times within the scope of my authority as Police Chief."
After the vote, Jennings read from another written statement, "I am requesting a hearing before the full board of aldermen at the next regular board meeting on December 7th at the city hall to address my termination of employment."
If the aldermen vote to uphold the decision to terminate Jennings, he would apparently have no other recourse other than litigation in court.
Lieutenant Steven Leffew is the "Officer in Charge" of the Smithville Police Department until the issue with the police chief position is resolved.
The notice of suspension reads as follows "You (Jennings) are being suspended for the following reason- dereliction of duties/negligence.
1. In the past two years, as Police Chief, you have not developed a comprehensive plan to combat crime problems in the City of Smithville, as evidenced by your admission to the board at the workshop of September 14th, 2009. You have not reached out to other agencies for help in combating these problems.
2. You were given two additional officers by the previous board with your promise that you then would be able to do drug investigations. To date, this has not happened.
3. At the workshop on September 14th, 2009, you did not know how many officers you had employed in the department, as evidenced by the CD of the meeting.
4. You have 4 or 5 officers-including yourself and the investigator-on duty on the day shift. You could have used some of these officers to work drug operations.
5. Your claim that the police department's budget has been cut is not substantiated by the 2008-09 city budget. In fact, there was an increase in the police department's budget over the previous year's budget. Also, your claim that all of your overtime has been cut is not true. You are still having overtime in your department.
6. There has been little progress made toward having a better-trained Police Force in specialized areas.
7. Community relations between your office and the public have deteriorated over the last two years.
8. You have not been a "working chief" out patrolling, issuing traffic tickets, answering calls for service, and making arrests.
9. You have authorized the use of a police vehicle for the transportation of civilians out of the area of authority of the Smithville Police Department.
10. It is the responsibility of all department heads to be available for call out at all times. You advised that you turn off your city cell phone when you leave for the day.
11. You have demonstrated lack of adequate supervision of officers.