Former Pleasant View police chief hopes to stay on as detective

Monday , July 14, 2014 - 8:37 PM

PLEASANT VIEW — Former Police Chief Scott Jackson -- stripped of that role in an emergency City Council session Saturday -- talked Monday about how his relationship with Mayor Toby Mileski and City Administrator Melinda Greenwood had soured so quickly.

Jackson said he was suspended for insubordination during a Friday morning meeting he had requested with Mileski and Greewood. The three differed on the handling of an ongoing internal investigation of one of his officers who allegedly had an affair and sent texts to a woman during work hours.

“They began cutting off my emails, my connection to the server and then removed my computer from my office,” Jackson said.

He suspects the last action was part of a fishing expedition to find a reason for his sudden termination “without cause” that occurred Saturday. That 3-2 decision — with Mileski providing the tie-breaking vote — came after three hours of closed door deliberations.

Beyond a brief statement released Monday, Mileski and Greenwood remained mum on reasons for Jackson’s termination as chief.

Citing a city ordinance that allows the police chief — an appointed positon — to be removed without cause, the statement added that “Scott Jackson dutifully served the community of Pleasant View for 17 years, 15 of which he was the Chief of Police. 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.”

Beyond that, the statement said that “it is not appropriate for the City to further comment on personnel matters.”

Late Monday afternoon, Jackson stood outside his home next to his unmarked patrol car, the remaining vestige of the job to which he’d devoted much of his 27-year career in law enforcement.

“This was all done overnight, on a weekend, in a rushed 24-hour whirlwind filled with all manner of legal concerns," Jackson said in a statement Monday. “. . . I’m currently in a state of shock and disbelief as a result of their recent actions and behavior.”

However, Jackson said that based on federal employment laws, his getting “unappointed” would cause his working status with the city to revert to that of a detective, the position he held for two years before being named Pleasant View’s chief.

“My (legal) counsel and I are still operating under the position that I am still a city employee,” Jackson said, adding that he considers himself now on paid administrative leave “waiting to hear back on when I will be removed from that status and reassigned as an employee under no form of disciplinary action per (Saturday’s) vote of the City Council.”

Jackson’s attorney, Randy Neal, also responded to his client’s removal in writing to Mileski.

Neal cited Jackson’s concerns that prompted Friday morning’s meeting with Mileski and Greenwood:

1) The internal investigation being handled by the mayor and city administrator “in disregard for proper protocol,” and 2) Jackson’s growing concerns about other recent upper level management decisions that he believed were negatively impacting his department and its service to the community.

Neal pointed to the same ordinance upon which Greenwood and Mileski relied on to remove Jackson without cause and questioned whether they had followed due process.

“This section . . . codifies important safeguards against arbitrary acts against the Chief of Police,” Neal said. “First, the decision to remove lies clearly with the City Council; second, there must be a process to provide the incumbent chief with an opportunity to be heard; and finally, the decision cannot be arbitrary or capricious, and must instead be for the good of the police service in the community.”

Neal, who was teaching a training session in Idaho Saturday morning, had asked city officials to delay the noon council session for two hours so that he could be present for the entire meeting. That request was denied.

Neal also questioned the council’s closed door session, which state law permits for discussing personnel matters related to the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual. 

"It’s not carte blanche that they can just go behind closed doors. Mental health issues are not applicable here,“ Neal said, noting that Jackson’s reputation and character could have been discussed in closed session, but everything else should have been public and they had to show that it was for the good of the police service in the community.

”There needs to be a public record established, and they’re doing a very lay interpretation of the code,“ Neal said. ”No one has any idea why the chief was removed.“

Neal believes the council should reschedule the issue because the mayor’s tie-breaking vote violated the city’s ordinance.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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